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

Noun

licensed \ ˈlī-​sᵊn(t)st How to pronounce licensed (audio) \ adjective

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

When the buyer applied for an export license, uproar ensued, and an export ban was imposed. Stellene Volandes, Town & Country, "How Queen Victoria’s Favorite Tiara Almost Caused a National Scandal," 31 Mar. 2019 Buy Photo Philadelphia is like a zoo with a menagerie of taxes, licenses, and fees. Stu Bykofsky, Philly.com, "Welcome to Taxadelphia, where you pay more than you realize | Stu Bykofsky," 10 July 2018 This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Ars Technica, "The Journal of Controversial Ideas—academic freedom sans responsibility is reckless," 25 Nov. 2018 According to the official guidelines of the TSA, domestic U.S. travelers must have valid identification to fly, such as a driver’s license, passport or permanent resident card. Fox News, "Rapper G-Eazy claims magazine cover got him through airport security," 2 Oct. 2018 Even acquiring the seed to plant an experimental field requires a special import license from the Drug Enforcement Agency. William L. Spence, idahostatesman, "Congress has moved to OK this once-controversial crop, and Idaho could benefit bigtime," 4 July 2018 Big 5 Sporting Goods: 10 percent off entire purchase for active duty, reserve military, retirees, veterans, spouses and dependent children with military ID or veteran status on driver’s license. Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY, "Oorah! Where active military, vets can save on Independence Day," 1 July 2018 Black has accounts with compounding pharmacies that sell and supply him with nutraceuticals under that license. Craig Hlavaty, Houston Chronicle, "Feeling the drip, drip, drip of the mobile IV craze," 13 June 2018 As for the current tally, EA’s had the Star Wars license for almost six years now and released two mediocre Battlefront games. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: Call of Duty's battle royale is free-to-try, Steam moved 15 exabytes of data in 2018," 18 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Talk your doctor, who may refer you to a professional psychologist or licensed clinical social worker for cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or a psychiatrist to discuss medication options. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "7 Signs You're Dealing With Anxiety," 3 Apr. 2019 New homeowners should try to set back $4,000 to $5,000 for potential home repairs and maintenance, says Wes Woodruff, licensed mortgage advisor at Angel Oak Home Loans in Atlanta. Nancy Mann Jackson, House Beautiful, "How Much Money You'll Really Need To Buy A House," 26 Feb. 2019 Today, the supermarket standby is nearly synonymous with the artist, and his take on it has been licensed on everything from socks to skateboards (seriously). Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "Leanne Ford's Genius $5 Trick to Liven Up an All-White Kitchen," 25 Mar. 2019 YouTube’s equivalent of this appears to be a series of videos on their Creators channel in which licensed therapist Kati Morton discusses burnout. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "YouTube is failing its creators," 21 Sep. 2018 The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., designed the sensors and EAGL licensed the technology, first at Hermosa Elementary School in Artesia, N.M., in September. Ivan Moreno, The Christian Science Monitor, "Wisconsin schools to roll out gunshot detection sensors," 26 June 2018 The converted retail store at the southern tip of Texas has become the largest licensed migrant children’s shelter in the country — a warehouse for nearly 1,500 boys aged 10 to 17 who were caught illegally crossing the border. New York Times, "Inside the Former Walmart That Is Now a Shelter for Almost 1,500 Migrant Children," 14 June 2018 At the time, the Trump Organization said that the lawyer, Jill A. Martin, who works in California, had acted in a personal capacity to help Cohen, who needed assistance with the initial arbitration filing from someone licensed in the state. Anchorage Daily News, "Trump is said to know of Stormy Daniels payment months before he denied it," 5 May 2018 This argument doesn’t really apply to the internet — there aren’t a limited number of websites, and the government doesn’t license them. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Trump keeps complaining about bias on Twitter — but what can he do about it? 8 experts weigh in.," 23 Aug. 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.

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

Statistics for license

Last Updated

10 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for license

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 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

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

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

to affect and impair by alcohol or a drug

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
True or False

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!