Glossary of Linguistic Terms

Defective Illocutionary Act


A defective illocutionary act is an illocutionary act, whether successful or unsuccessful, in which one or more of the preparatory or sincerity conditions for the act are not met.



  • The utterance Pass the salt in a situation in which a preparatory condition, the addressee’s ability to comply, is not met because there is no salt on the table
  • A lie or insincere promise, in which the act itself is defective even if the statement or promise is successfully made