1

license

play
noun li·cense \ ˈlī-sᵊn(t)s \
variants: or licence

Definition of license

1 a :permission to act
b :freedom of action
2 a :a permission granted by competent authority to engage in a business or occupation or in an activity otherwise unlawful
  • a hunting license
b :a document, plate, or tag evidencing a license granted
c :a grant by the holder of a copyright or patent to another of any of the rights embodied in the copyright or patent short of an assignment of all rights
3 a :freedom that allows or is used with irresponsibility
  • Freedom of the press should not be turned into license.
b :disregard for standards of personal conduct :licentiousness
4 :deviation from fact, form, or rule by an artist or writer for the sake of the effect gained
  • poetic license

licensed

play \ˈlī-sᵊn(t)st\ adjective

Examples of license in a Sentence

  1. The restaurant's owner applied for a license to sell liquor.

  2. His job as a reporter gives him license to go anywhere and ask anything.

Recent Examples of license from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'license.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

The Shared Roots of license and licentious

License and licentious come ultimately from the same word in Latin, licentia, whose meanings ranged from "freedom to act" to "unruly behavior, wantonness." The Latin noun was itself derived from the verb licere "to be permitted." Though we are likely to associate license with the card that grants freedom or permission to operate a motor vehicle and licentious with sexual wantonness, in actuality, there is considerable semantic overlap between the two words. Poetic license refers to deviation from a (usually) literary norm for some purposeful effect. A person who takes license with something (or someone) engages in "abusive disregard for rules of personal conduct." Hence, the semantic range of license in English mirrors that of its Latin antecedent, suggesting either permission or transgression, depending upon the context. Licentious, on the other hand, always implies excessive, transgressive freedom, as is true of its immediate Latin source, licentiosus "unrestrained, wanton" (literally, "full of freedom").

Origin and Etymology of license

Middle English, from Anglo-French licence, from Latin licentia, from licent-, licens, present participle of licēre to be permitted

Synonym Discussion of license

freedom, liberty, license mean the power or condition of acting without compulsion. freedom has a broad range of application from total absence of restraint to merely a sense of not being unduly hampered or frustrated.
    • freedom of the press
liberty suggests release from former restraint or compulsion.
    • the released prisoner had difficulty adjusting to his new liberty
license implies freedom specially granted or conceded and may connote an abuse of freedom.
    • freedom without responsibility may degenerate into license

2

license

verb
variants: or less commonly licence

Definition of license

licensed also licenced; licensing also licencing
transitive verb
1 a :to issue a license to
b :to permit or authorize especially by formal license
2 :to give permission or consent to :allow

licensable

play \ˈlī-sᵊn(t)-sə-bəl\ adjective

licensor

play \ˈlī-sᵊn(t)-sər, ˌli-sᵊn-ˈsȯr\ or less commonly licenser play \ˈlī-sᵊn(t)-sər\ noun

Examples of license in a Sentence

  1. The restaurant has now been licensed to sell liquor.

  2. a new drug licensed by the government

  3. The company licensed its name to others.

Recent Examples of license from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'license.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of license



LICENSE Defined for English Language Learners

license

play
noun

Definition of license for English Language Learners

  • : an official document, card, etc., that gives you permission to do, use, or have something

  • : freedom to act however you want to

  • : the freedom of an artist, writer, etc., to change the way something is described or shown in order to produce a work of art


license

verb

Definition of license for English Language Learners

  • : to give official permission to (someone or something) to do or use something : to give a license to (someone or something)

  • : to give official permission for (something)

  • : to allow the use of (a name, property, etc.) through a formal agreement


LICENSE Defined for Kids

1

license

noun li·cense
variants: or licence \ˈlī-sᵊns\

Definition of license for Students

1 :permission to do something granted especially by qualified authority
  • a license to sell food
2 :a paper, card, or tag showing legal permission
  • a driver's license
3 :freedom of action that is carried too far
  • Bitterly did she repent the license she had given her imagination.
  • —Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

2

license

verb
variants: also licence

Definition of license for Students

licensed also licenced; licensing also licencing
:to grant formal permission

Medical Dictionary

license

noun li·cense
variants: or chiefly British licence play \ˈlīs-ᵊn(t)s\

medical Definition of license

:a permission granted by competent authority to engage in a business or occupation or in an activity otherwise unlawful
  • a license to practice medicine

license

or chiefly British licence transitive verb licensed or chiefly British licenced; licensing or chiefly British licencing

Law Dictionary

1

license

noun li·cense \ ˈlīs-ᵊns \

legal Definition of license

1 a :a right or permission granted by a competent authority (as of a government or a business) to engage in some business or occupation, do some act, or engage in some transaction which would be unlawful without such right or permission; also :a document, plate, or tag evidencing a license granted
b :revocable authority or permission given solely to one having no possessory rights in a tract of land to do something on that land which would otherwise be unlawful or a trespass — compare easement, lease
c :a grant by the holder of a copyright or patent to another of any of the rights embodied in the copyright or patent short of an assignment of all rights
2 :a defense (as to trespass) that one's act was in accordance with a license granted
3 a :freedom that allows or is used with irresponsibility
b :disregard for standards of personal conduct :licentiousness

Origin and Etymology of license

Anglo-French, literally, permission, from Old French, from Latin licentia, from licent- licens, present participle of licēre to be permitted, be for sale


2

license

transitive verb

legal Definition of license

licensed; licensing
1 :to issue a license to
2 :to permit or authorize by a license


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up license? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

agreeable, attractive, or delicious

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!

  • young-plant-shoots
  • Which of the following is a new sense of the word bunny?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!