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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Citations would be treated like parking tickets, rather than as moving violations that would come with points assessed on a driver’s license. Sam Janesch, Baltimore Sun, 16 May 2022 Octavio Marin, 47, of the 2800 block of W. 23rd Place, Chicago, was charged with driving while license suspended, operating a motor vehicle while registration suspended and operating an uninsured motor vehicle, at 6:34 a.m. May 5. Pioneer Press Staff, Chicago Tribune, 13 May 2022 Sharkdog has gone by Scooby most of his life, but his driver’s license reads Scott Anthony Wright III. Joseph Goodman | Jgoodman@al.com, al, 12 May 2022 However, his driver’s license had expired, so the worker denied the purchase. Bob Sandrick, cleveland, 12 May 2022 Additionally, the driver’s license was reportedly suspended, and both the U-Haul—which was allegedly overdue for return—and the Rodeo in its cargo hold were impounded. Greg Fink, Car and Driver, 11 May 2022 It hasn’t been made immediately clear if the person being arrested says that in reference to Wright or someone else, but the officer continues toward Wright across multiple lanes of traffic and grabs her while asking for her driver’s license. Kevin L. Clark, Essence, 10 May 2022 Zurbrügg did eventually get his driver’s license, adding a few thousand miles to the Jag. Tori Latham, Robb Report, 10 May 2022 Fernando Palomino Perez, 20, of the 700 block of Inland Circle, Naperville, was arrested on a charge of driving without a valid license/permit at 7 p.m. April 8 at North Aurora Road and North Route 59. Steve Metsch, chicagotribune.com, 18 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The state will begin to license companies that ship alcohol by mail, taxing those businesses for the first time. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, 16 May 2022 In a typical deal, NAMCO, or the rights holder, would be able to license non-Equity rights to a non-Equity touring producer such as NETworks Presentations, which would then put on the tour. Caitlin Huston, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 May 2022 Last year, Warner Music Group—which Warner Chappell Music is a subsidiary of—and Bowie’s estate entered into an agreement that allowed the company to license the rights of his music catalog from 1968 to 2016. Marisa Dellatto, Forbes, 3 Jan. 2022 The company, like many other fintech and e-commerce companies in Egypt, is benefiting from regulatory changes that allow the central bank to license more such platforms. Tawanda Karombo, Quartz, 13 July 2021 Fat shaming, O’Neil argues, masquerades as concern-trolling, giving unsympathetic outsiders license to humiliate those with weight struggles and gain attention for themselves. Washington Post, 8 Apr. 2022 This gives both actors license to dip into their physical comedy toolbox with more engaging results, even if the sketch is wafer-thin. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Mar. 2022 But that does not give Zelensky or anyone else license to distort history. David Harsanyi, National Review, 22 Mar. 2022 In decades past, a large investment round gave founders license to rent a stylish office, throw a big party, or launch a brand-awareness campaign. Arielle Pardes, Wired, 3 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About license

Time Traveler for license

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near license

lice

license

licensed

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Statistics for license

Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“License.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/license. Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for license

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

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

More from Merriam-Webster on license

Nglish: Translation of license for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of license for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about license

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