Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day


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Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.



June 28th, 2016

Episode 569 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 28, 2016 is: licit \LISS-it\ adjective : conforming to the requirements of the law : not forbidden by law : permissible Examples: The program subsidizes farmers growing licit crops, such as rubber, cassava, and cocoa. "The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) explained, opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin and the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others." — The Recorder: Central Connecticut University, 5 May 2016 Did you know? Licit is far less common than its antonym illicit, but you probably won't be surprised to learn that the former is the older of the two. Not by much, though: the first known use of licit in print is from 1483, whereas illicit shows up in print for the first time in 1506. For some reason illicit took off while licit just plodded along. When licit appears these days, it often modifies drugs or crops. Meanwhile, illicit shows up before words like thrill and passion (as well as gambling, relationship, activities, and, of course, drugs and crops.) The Latin word licitus, meaning "lawful," is the root of the pair; licitus itself is from licēre, meaning "to be permitted."