license

noun
li·​cense | \ ˈlī-sᵊn(t)s How to pronounce license (audio) \
variants: or licence

Definition of license

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : permission to act
b : freedom of action
2a : 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
3a : 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

license

verb
variants: or less commonly licence
licensed also licenced; licensing also licencing

Definition of license (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to issue a license to
b : to permit or authorize especially by formal license
2 : to give permission or consent to : allow

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from license

Verb

licensable \ ˈlī-​sᵊn(t)-​sə-​bəl How to pronounce licensable (audio) \ adjective
licensor \ ˈlī-​sᵊn(t)-​sər How to pronounce licensor (audio) , ˌli-​sᵊn-​ˈsȯr \ or less commonly licenser \ ˈlī-​sᵊn(t)-​sər How to pronounce licenser (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for license

Noun

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

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").

Examples of license in a Sentence

Noun The restaurant's owner applied for a license to sell liquor. His job as a reporter gives him license to go anywhere and ask anything. Verb The restaurant has now been licensed to sell liquor. a new drug licensed by the government The company licensed its name to others.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Whole Woman’s Health filed suit in 2018 after Indiana regulators rejected its license to open a clinic in South Bend. Kimberly Leonard, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Healthcare: Alcohol deaths are climbing but proposed reforms are controversial," 13 Jan. 2020 Records are shown for any store that has a retail license and handles or prepares raw food. oregonlive, "These 21 Oregon grocery stores did the worst on state health inspections," 10 Jan. 2020 Her license to practice law was reinstated a few weeks later in June 2017. Dallas News, "Former Collin County judge drops out of 2020 race amid continuing legal battle," 6 Jan. 2020 Wolf said the project will build on clean slate legislation, reductions in the state prison inmate population, an end to automatic driver’s license suspensions and other adult justice reform changes in recent years. USA TODAY, "Puppy sleepovers, paisley-patterned botanic garden: News from around our 50 states," 19 Dec. 2019 State regulators fined the company for arming the guard, who didn’t have a Florida firearms license. USA Today, "Security giant G4S has lost hundreds of guns. Here’s where we found them," 16 Dec. 2019 Hwa Lee, 44, of the 100 block of Enfield Drive, was charged Nov. 28 with improper lane usage, expired registration and driving while license suspended. chicagotribune.com, "2 people tried to use altered receipt to return stolen merchandise: Northbrook police," 10 Dec. 2019 Because of this, bootstrappers can infer less about nature’s governing laws, and nature itself has more creative license. Quanta Magazine, "Why the Laws of Physics Are Inevitable," 9 Dec. 2019 He will be summonsed to appear in Orleans District Court to face charges of operating to endanger, operating after license suspension, and an over-height violation, State Police said in a statement. BostonGlobe.com, "The driver , identified only as a 41-year-old Brockton man, was not injured.," 8 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb About 80% of the 18,000 farmers licensed for hemp cultivation are in the CBD market, said Eric Steenstra, president of the advocacy group Vote Hemp. Washington Post, "High anxiety: Proposed US hemp rules worry industry," 14 Jan. 2020 About 80 percent of the 18,000 farmers licensed for hemp cultivation are in the CBD market, said Eric Steenstra, president of the advocacy group Vote Hemp. NBC News, "High anxiety: Proposed US hemp rules worry industry," 13 Jan. 2020 How to adopt: Slim is neutered, up to date on all shots, licensed with Maricopa County Animal Care and Control and microchipped. Arizona Republic, azcentral, "Misty and more pets up for adoption in Phoenix-area shelters this week," 10 Jan. 2020 The department-store company said comparable-store sales for November and December fell 0.6% from a year earlier for its owned and licensed merchandise. Suzanne Kapner, WSJ, "Macy’s Plans Store Closures, Posts Encouraging Holiday Sales," 8 Jan. 2020 Katzenberg said Quibi pays 100% of the cost of the production, then licenses the short form material for seven years, after which the creators own the intellectual property, incentivizing them to promote the shows. Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY, "CES: New Quibi streaming service to give bite-size shows from J.Lo, Spielberg and The Rock," 8 Jan. 2020 The Jersey subsidiary sold the rights to another Apple Irish subsidiary, according to Monaghan, which could now license the IP both within and outside Apple. Erik Sherman, Fortune, "New Laws Meant to Close Down Tax Havens and Shut Loopholes Could Have the Opposite Effect," 8 Jan. 2020 While not licensed day care centers, the YKids rooms are filled with safe toys and art supplies, diaper changing stations and caring adults. Beth Spotswood, SFChronicle.com, "Day care decision leaves trail of tears from child, parents," 7 Jan. 2020 Many of these conflicts reflected equity stakes in or patents licensed to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Annie Waldman, ProPublica, "Reporting Recipe: How to Investigate Professors’ Conflicts of Interest," 7 Jan. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of license

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for license

Noun and Verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about license

Time Traveler for license

Time Traveler

The first known use of license was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for license

Last Updated

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“License.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/licence. Accessed 25 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for license

license

noun
How to pronounce license (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of license

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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

English Language Learners Definition of license (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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

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

Kids Definition of license

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

license

verb
variants: also licence
licensed also licenced; licensing also licencing

Kids Definition of license (Entry 2 of 2)

: to grant formal permission

license

noun
li·​cense
variants: or chiefly British licence \ ˈlīs-​ᵊn(t)s How to pronounce licence (audio) \

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

Other Words from license

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

Keep scrolling for more

license

noun
li·​cense | \ ˈlīs-ᵊns \

Legal Definition of license

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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
3a : freedom that allows or is used with irresponsibility
b : disregard for standards of personal conduct : licentiousness
licensed; licensing

Legal Definition of license (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to issue a license to
2 : to permit or authorize by a license

History and Etymology for license

Noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on license

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

WORD OF THE DAY

dull or mediocre

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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!