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 license (audio) \ adjective
licensor \ ˈlī-​sᵊn(t)-​sər How to pronounce license (audio) , ˌli-​sᵊn-​ˈsȯr \ or less commonly licenser \ ˈlī-​sᵊn(t)-​sər How to pronounce license (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 Cars with license plates from New Mexico and Arizona cruised by and filmed the scene. Los Angeles Times, "Column: People came by to pay final respects to this East L.A. tree that went Hollywood. Too soon?," 1 Jan. 2021 The car does not have any license plates, officials said. oregonlive, "Police ask for help finding missing 64-year-old woman," 31 Dec. 2020 Locals have reported spotting out-of-state license plates around town and business owners have been processing credit cards with billing addresses spanning the country. Gregory Thomas, SFChronicle.com, "Tahoe’s 3-week shutdown order expires tonight. But the region will remain shut down for New Year's," 31 Dec. 2020 The car, a Chevrolet Camaro with no license plates, had been towed to Ganley Nov. 6. Bob Sandrick, cleveland, "Maple Heights man skips out on $7,600 car repair bill at Ganley Chevrolet in Brook Park," 28 Dec. 2020 On a recent morning, cars parked near one of St. Moritz’s main lift stations sported license plates from Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Slovenia and Poland. Eric Sylvers, WSJ, "With Ski Resorts Closed Across Europe, Die-Hards Descend on Switzerland," 19 Dec. 2020 There are Save the Manatee license plates, a county, a river and hundreds of other things named after these loveable creatures, which can weigh up to 3,000 pounds. New York Times, "Escape From the City: 9 Winter Outings That Fight Cabin Fever," 18 Dec. 2020 Police ask that anyone who sees the 2016 Honda Accord, with Connecticut license plates AE81224, call 911. Christine Dempsey, courant.com, "Carjacker bangs on driver’s window with gun, takes car in Manchester, police say," 15 Dec. 2020 Here, the data in question is focused on license plates, not people, so the sharing agreement does not violate state law. Teri Figueroa, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Chula Vista reverses course, hits pause on sharing license-plate reader data with ICE, Border Patrol," 13 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Biotech firms could license their drug to a bigger firm, co-develop it with them, offer them equity in exchange for funding and support through joint ventures, merge with them—or wait for the day they got acquired. Annabelle Timsit, Quartz, "Moderna and BioNTech are changing pharma with drastically different business models," 23 Dec. 2020 Now, Ericsson claims, Samsung has broken its commitment to negotiate and license patents on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. David Meyer, Fortune, "The business community is tackling diversity with new seriousness," 11 Dec. 2020 State financial regulators license mortgage servicers. Washington Post, "Nationstar Mortgage agrees to a $91 million settlement for mishandling foreclosures and borrowers’ payments," 8 Dec. 2020 Refusing to fully license music is unfair to music creators, and also puts the users who have chronicled their work on Twitch at risk. David Israelite, Billboard, "NMPA CEO: Twitch Harms Everyone By Refusing to License Music (Guest Op-Ed)," 2 Dec. 2020 Turnout among unaffiliated voters, including a large pool who were automatically registered through drivers license applications and renewals, stands at 42% as of Thursday. oregonlive, "Oregon voter turnout slows after record early surge," 30 Oct. 2020 Adults also could grow six plants each in their homes, and the measure would license about 160 retailers to sell the drug. Ryan Randazzo, USA TODAY, "Where recreational marijuana is legal, data show minimal impacts on teen use and traffic deaths," 21 Oct. 2020 And the measure would license about 160 retailers across the state to sell the drug. Ryan Randazzo, The Arizona Republic, "Where recreational marijuana is legal, data show minimal impacts on teen use and traffic deaths," 21 Oct. 2020 In January, China agreed to respect intellectual property, open its market to agricultural goods, and license American financial services providers, while committing to purchase $200 billion worth of U.S. goods. Lydia Depillis, ProPublica, "Robert Lighthizer Blew Up 60 Years of Trade Policy. Nobody Knows What Happens Next.," 13 Oct. 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.

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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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Time Traveler for license

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for license

Last Updated

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“License.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/license. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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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 license (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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Comments on license

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