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

The measures included limits on the number of business licenses per household and barred more than 50 seats at private restaurants. Andrea Rodriguez, The Seattle Times, "Cubans welcome softer laws on business and art," 12 Dec. 2018 But these auctions will be critical to watch due to the importance of having control of these spectrum licenses for building out future networks. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "The FCC is auctioning off the first block of mmWave 5G spectrum today," 14 Nov. 2018 Shells—not something associated with smell—is a case of artistic license. Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "That Scent Wafting Through the Whitney Museum’s New Exhibition? It's Your Next Perfume Obsession," 3 Aug. 2018 In California, for instance, thanks to Proposition 64, which legalized recreational use, cities can pass their own zoning regulations and the number of licenses is strictly controlled. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Cannabis, coworking, and the marijuana-industry land rush," 24 July 2018 Her error rate was nearly 13 percent of the 28,275 licenses processed. Brendan Farrington, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Florida concealed weapons permits: 2012 probe found more state agency errors," 3 July 2018 Her error rate was nearly 13 percent of the 28,275 licenses processed. Brendan Farrington, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Florida concealed weapons permits: 2012 probe found more state agency errors," 3 July 2018 Arguing over $50 million transfer fee State law requires the initial holder of a racino license to pay the $50 million fee when controlling interest is sold. Tony Cook, Indianapolis Star, "Caesars agrees to pay $1 million penalty over efforts to sway Indiana casino regulators," 28 June 2018 There's nothing that beats the feeling of getting your very own driver's permit (well, except maybe getting your eventual license!). Seventeen Editors, Seventeen, "7 Driving Tips For Teens That'll Seriously Help You Become a Pro On The Road," 14 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Unlike his sister, the art historian Diana Widmaier Picasso, Olivier’s appreciation for art is bound up in valuations and licensing agreements—the monetization of it all, in other words. Marley Marius, Vogue, "On the Heels of an $88 Million Picasso Sale, Olivier Widmaier Picasso Talks Art, Life, and His Very Famous Grandfather," 12 Nov. 2018 The user agreement could assert that the device and its software is only licensed to the consumer and that the manufacturer retains rights to the IoB arm even after the device is attached to the consumer’s body. Andrea M. Matwyshyn, WSJ, "The ‘Internet of Bodies’ Is Here. Are Courts and Regulators Ready?," 12 Nov. 2018 Accounts with more than 1,000 photos or videos that are licensed with Creative Commons won’t have that content deleted. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Flickr promises it won’t delete Creative Commons photos when it limits free storage," 7 Nov. 2018 Gerald Konkler, general counsel of the Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training, confirmed that Tilghman was licensed to carry a weapon and had been through training that would have included a psychological evaluation. Frances Stead Sellers, Washington Post, "Two Oklahoma citizens killed an active shooter, and it's not as simple as it sounds," 13 July 2018 One option is to work with marijuana websites such as Weedmaps and Leafly, which provide directories of pot businesses but aren’t licensed themselves. Dan Adams, BostonGlobe.com, "Boston firm offers marijuana-friendly lodging," 11 July 2018 The owners of the center falsely reported that some employees were licensed when MCAP was billed for the services. Ruth Bruno, courant.com, "Norwich Mental Health Center Accused Of Fraudulently Billing State's Medicaid Program," 10 July 2018 In addition to the felony aggravated assault by vehicle charges, Spencer is also charged with two counts of simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, accident involving death/personal injury while not properly licensed. Christine Pelisek, PEOPLE.com, "Pennsylvania Man Allegedly Steals His Mother's Car and Runs Her Over: 'I Think I Killed My Mom!'," 9 July 2018 PillPack will help overcome that hurdle, since the start-up is licensed to ship drugs in 50 states — clearing the way for the e-commerce giant to quickly become a major player in the business. New York Times, "Amazon to Buy Online Pharmacy PillPack, Jumping Into the Drug Business," 28 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 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

2 Jan 2019

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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