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 The appellate acknowledged that Patrick Baker, who was reprimanded and lost his license to practice law for a time because of problems with his representation of Myers, made errors during the trial. Laura Lane, The Indianapolis Star, "U.S. Supreme Court won't review Myers' case," 12 Apr. 2021 In the pop ballad, Rodrigo sings about driving around while longing for a past love who'd encouraged her to get her license. Rachel Yang, EW.com, "'Drivers License' singer Olivia Rodrigo learns driving 'isn't all fun' after getting parking ticket," 12 Apr. 2021 In the emotional pop ballad, Rodrigo sings about driving in the 'burbs with her new drivers license, longing for the past love who'd encouraged her to achieve the life-changing ID. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "Olivia Rodrigo shows the downside to 'Drivers License': the dreaded parking ticket," 12 Apr. 2021 The bill also requires anyone seeking to vote by mail to give their drivers’ license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number. Gray Rohrer, orlandosentinel.com, "Florida lawmaker warns businesses ‘to stay in their lane,’ citing ‘much more’ voter access than Georgia," 9 Apr. 2021 Under the amendment, voters who apply online have to type in their driver’s license number or last four digits of their Social Security number. Alexandra Kukulka, chicagotribune.com, "Voting bill amended to follow procedures for online vote by mail ballot applications used in 2020," 8 Apr. 2021 The requirement that voters write a driver’s license number or other identifier on absentee-ballot envelopes (when Ohio, the state where the last All-Star Game was played, has a similar rule)? The Editors, National Review, "Mighty Casey Gets Woke," 3 Apr. 2021 The new law also requires a driver’s license number, state ID number or photocopy or electronic upload of ID, or the last four digits of their social security number when requesting an absentee ballot. Sanya Mansoor, Time, "Georgia Has Enacted Sweeping Changes to Its Voting Law. Here's Why Voting Rights Advocates Are Worried," 26 Mar. 2021 New Jersey requires a driver’s license number or the last four digits of a Social Security number for online voter registration, while Virginia requires both a photo ID card and your Social Security number. Karl Rove, WSJ, "Blue-State Voter ‘Suppression’," 24 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Though Shamrock will still have rights to the originals, Swift’s intention is for fans to listen to the new material on streaming services and that films and ads will license this. Robert Hart, Forbes, "Taylor Swift Releases First Re-Recorded Album, ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version), Following Sale Of Master Recordings," 9 Apr. 2021 Netflix will also license older movies from Sony’s library. Joe Flint, WSJ, "Netflix Inks Deal for Rights to Sony Movies, Including Upcoming ‘Spider-Man’ Films," 8 Apr. 2021 Michigan is the only state to license tribal casinos for online gaming and sports betting. Carol Cain, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan's online sports betting launch was a big win. I talked to the man behind it," 3 Apr. 2021 What this means is that, at least theoretically, a third-party chipmaker could license and build an x86 processor. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "In a radical change, Intel will build x86 chips for other companies," 24 Mar. 2021 Email addresses, drivers license numbers and refugee and immigration case information alsowere included in some of the messages posted on the internet. Morgan Cook, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Some San Diegans’ personal information provided to Jewish Family Service exposed online," 28 Feb. 2021 Last week, The Information reported Netflix could be looking to license some of its content to linear networks. Josef Adalian, Vulture, "The Snyder Cut Has Already Done Its Job for HBO Max," 18 Mar. 2021 Tracking down the original creator of a viral dance isn't always easy, and Nanzer has to move fast to license viral tracks before the internet moves on. Tatiana Cirisano, Billboard, "'Fortnite' Celebrating Grammys With BTS, Dua Lipa & More TikTok Dance Emotes," 12 Mar. 2021 The league is in talks with several other media companies to license the other half, the person said. Benjamin Mullin, WSJ, "ESPN Strikes Seven-Year Deal for Rights to NHL Games," 11 Mar. 2021

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

14 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“License.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/license. Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

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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 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

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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