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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun On Tuesday, there was minimal pushback on other aspects of Glendale’s proposed regulations, including requiring hosts to obtain a license from the city, report their earnings and pay the same tax hotel operators pay. Lila Seidman, Glendale News-Press, "Glendale officials soften proposed Airbnb rules," 13 Sep. 2019 But that morphed into giving creative license to Nehrling, who has been with Fire on the Mountain since the brewery opened after homebrewing then spending seven years in a McMenamins brewhouse. Andre Meunier, oregonlive, "Fire on the Mountain not just winging it in Beervana: Portland Breweries Series," 12 Sep. 2019 Another likely contributing factor is the increase in the number of jobs that require a state-specific occupational license. David Yanofsky, Quartz, "Every state recession since 2007 and why they matter," 11 Sep. 2019 The beds are on suspension until 2021, which means the city still has the license to operate the facility. Trisha Thadani, SFChronicle.com, "City should fill unused treatment beds on SF General’s campus ASAP, says new legislation," 10 Sep. 2019 Mr Borrell, a straight-talking socialist and foreign-policy heavyweight, will have license to project Europe’s voice in the world more loudly. The Economist, "Ursula von der Leyen’s new European Commission is a win for France," 10 Sep. 2019 His decision to engage in a meaningful conversation about responsible gun sales in America could give license to other business leaders to enter the conversation. Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times, "Walmart’s C.E.O. Steps Into the Gun Debate. Other C.E.O.s Should Follow.," 3 Sep. 2019 The change of scenery puts people at ease, giving them more license to discuss their triumphs and complaints. Matthew De Silva, Quartz at Work, "Why you should spend time with older colleagues outside of work," 29 Aug. 2019 However, many scientists and critics of Bolsonaro have said that his government's policy of encouraging deforestation has boosted the land clearance that helps fires rage, and has given people a license to burn the land. Christopher Carbone, Fox News, "Amazon fires: Why is the rainforest burning?," 27 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Fox earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Management with an emphasis in Accounting from the University of Phoenix, has eight years experience in the private sector, and is licensed to drive school buses. Ramona Sentinel, "Workers spend summer on school improvements," 4 Sep. 2019 Soon, the decision was forced upon Transition House: Massachusetts passed a law requiring anyone working as a mental-health counsellor to be professionally licensed. Larissa Macfarquhar, The New Yorker, "The Radical Transformations of a Battered Women’s Shelter," 13 Aug. 2019 To date, the series has over 200 books licensed in over 20 territories, with more than 180 million copies sold. Jodi Guglielmi, PEOPLE.com, "Alicia Silverstone Joins Netflix's Reboot of The Baby-Sitters Club," 6 Aug. 2019 Booker calls for all gun owners to be licensed, and talks about the murder rates in the trans community. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "The First Democratic Debate: Not a Snore-Fest Nor a Food Fight," 27 June 2019 The new entrants on the entity list also include THATIC, a joint venture AMD had set up with the Chinese government in 2016 to license an x86 chip for use in China. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "The U.S. blacklists five Chinese supercomputer firms, including AMD joint venture THATIC," 21 June 2019 Prior to that, Spyglass had brokered a deal with the University of Illinois to license Mosaic and its underlying technology, created at the university's National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Matt Blitz, Popular Mechanics, "Later, Navigator: How Netscape Won and Then Lost the World Wide Web," 4 Apr. 2019 Most states require the general contractor to be licensed, bonded, and insured. Brett Martin, House Beautiful, "See The Definitions Of Common Renovation Terms," 26 Dec. 2018 And Success Kid actually, his family went on to license out the real Success Kid. Eric Johnson, Recode, "How Imgur avoids the ugliness of social media," 26 Dec. 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for license

Last Updated

6 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for license

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

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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

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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

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