When it comes to best PTE English Training classes, Sahasriya leads the way with over 2500 successful students. In Bengaluru or Chennai-Velachery and Porur or Coimbatore, the best success rate destination always ends up at Sahasriya. Thats why Sahasriya provides value to students through its Interesting English series too. Everyday’s note on important aspects of English language is a standing example of narrating experiences of PTE English Training classes inputs from Sahasriya. Today, it is about ‘Illegal’ and ‘Illicit’.

As more and more laws are written, they forbid more and more things. Luckily, English has a variety of options for describing something that is against the law.

Illegalillicit, and unlawful are three options that have been in use for centuries. Do they mean different things, or should choosing illicit or illegal boil down to which is most popular?

When to Use Illegal

PTE English Training IllegalWhat does illegal mean? Illegal is an adjective, where it means not in accordance with laws. In the world of sports, illegal also means against the rules.

Here are a few examples,

  • Ramesh and Sunil are having way too much fun lighting illegal fireworks.
  • Arif was arrested for possession of an illegal firearm.
  • The athlete received a penalty for an illegal hold on his opponent.

Illegal is the most common of these three words, so unless you have a very specific circumstance, it will work in most cases. Also, it’s important to note that illegal is not the same thing as criminal.

Anything against the law is illegal, but not all illegal acts are criminal acts. Driving above the speed limit is illegal, but it not a criminal act. Only violations of criminal law are criminal. See a full discussion here.

When to Use Illicit

PTE English Training IllicitWhat does illicit mean? Illicit is another adjective that means against the law. It has connotations of immorality, as in the phrase illicit affair.

Here are some examples,

  • Santosh sent Ravi’s wife an illicit text message.
  • The politician was disgraced when an opponent publicised her illicit communication with a foreign government.
  • Jerome downloaded pirated software from an illicit website, and his computer got a virus.

A third term, unlawful, has the same meaning as illegal and illicit.

Trick to Remember the Difference

PTE English Training illegal versus illicit These adjectives are all synonyms, so you could use any of them and still be correct. In contemporary English, illicit carries shades of immorality, and is much less common than illegal or unlawfulIllegal is by far the most popular choice. It would be the most familiar term to most audiences and is, therefore, the safest choice.

Since you would probably also choose legal instead of lawful or licit, you can use illegal’s antonym as a reminder that it is the most common of these words.


Is it illegal or illicit? Illegalillicit, and unlawful are adjectives that mean against the lawIllegal is the most commonly used, followed by unlawful, and trailed by illicit.

You can use legal as a reminder to use illegal in most cases, since these antonyms are both the most popular choice in their family of options.

If you have additional questions, you can check this site for a quick refresher.

This daily series is an effort by Sahasriya for educating students on PTE English Training classes and beyond. These vital tips ensures your PTE English Training classes are more effective with Sahasriya which is what hundreds of students benefit everyday.

About Govind Desikan

AvatarGovind, a master of English language has taken to sharing his experience on English language and focus specifically on finer inputs on English language, IELTS and PTE exams through his posts here.

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