license

noun
li·​cense | \ˈlī-sᵊn(t)s \
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

Noun

licensed \ ˈlī-​sᵊn(t)st \ adjective

Verb

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

Adopters will get free license, vaccines, spay/neuter surgery and microchip for all adult animals. Angela Forburger, azcentral, "Pets continue to flood Arizona animal shelters following monsoon storms," 12 July 2018 Taken with the wallet were her driver’s license, Social Security card, a debit card, three credit cards and cash. latimes.com, "Crime Report: Burglary victim believes thief accessed home by using garage door remote control," 11 July 2018 When the deal is completed later this year, Amazon will be able to sell prescription drugs to customers in the 50 states where PillPack has licenses. The Economist, "Amazon takes a big step into online pharma," 5 July 2018 Short-term rental licenses are granted for one year. Kevin Litten, NOLA.com, "Short-term rental industry cautions against New Orleans proposal limiting renewals," 23 May 2018 The California Department of Motor Vehicles is expanding Saturday service to alleviate long wait times for driver license and other services at its field offices. Kathleen Pender, SFChronicle.com, "California DMV will expand Saturday hours to trim interminable waits," 13 July 2018 The board then recommends applicants to take the exam for Class A or Class B licenses. Katrease Stafford, Detroit Free Press, "Concerns raised about contractors sitting on Detroit wrecking board," 9 July 2018 Convenience stores and food establishments are required to re-apply annually for the licenses to stay open late. Ruth Bruno, courant.com, "To Curb Violence, Hartford Blocks A Dozen Gas Stations, Convenience Stores From Staying Open All Night," 7 July 2018 Far more medical licenses were granted to women in Naples than anywhere else in Medieval Europe — 34 in the 14th century alone, as compared to four in Florence. Anne Thériault, Longreads, "Queens of Infamy: Joanna of Naples," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The owners of Affinity Behavioral Health LLC billed the Connecticut Medical Assistance Program for therapy sessions and other services provided by employees who were not licensed clinicians, the attorney’s office said. Ruth Bruno, courant.com, "Norwich Mental Health Center Accused Of Fraudulently Billing State's Medicaid Program," 10 July 2018 They aren't licensed by the government to give out letters of invitation. Megan Spurrell, Condé Nast Traveler, "2018 World Cup: Everything You Need to Know About Getting to Russia," 5 June 2018 But before negotiations had concluded and the agreement was executed, JLI itself wasn't licensed. Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "Hollywood Docket: "Most Interesting Man"; Dr. Luke v. Kesha; 'Goldie and Bear' Lawsuit," 1 June 2018 They're not licensed professionals and are not being trained to replace college counseling centers. Aneri Pattani, chicagotribune.com, "College students train to help peers at risk for suicide, depression and more," 12 July 2018 In other cases, centers had to disclose that they weren’t licensed to provide medical services. Ian Duncan, baltimoresun.com, "Supreme Court ruling on pregnancy centers that don't offer abortions likely deals blow to Baltimore law," 26 June 2018 The law also required facilities to disclose whether or not they are licensed by the state. Madeleine Aggeler, The Cut, "Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Anti-Abortion Groups That Lie to Pregnant Women," 26 June 2018 If you are not already licensed, the agency recommends contacting organizations such as United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services. Alex Samuels, star-telegram, "These organizations are mobilizing to help immigrant children separated from their families," 23 June 2018 O’Neil Swanson III, 57, of West Bloomfield is accused of offering prepaid funeral contracts that he was not legally licensed to offer, according to a news release by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. Detroit Free Press Staff, Detroit Free Press, "Owner of Michigan funeral home with rotting bodies faces felony counts," 11 June 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

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

Verb

see license entry 1

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Statistics for license

Last Updated

6 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

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

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 \

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

license

transitive verb
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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