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

The percentage of teens with a driver’s license has tumbled in the last few decades and more young people are delaying purchasing their first car—if buying one at all, say analysts, generational experts and car industry executives. Adrienne Roberts, WSJ, "Driving? The Kids Are So Over It," 20 Apr. 2019 Iowa Medical marijuana dispensaries opened in December 2018, but Iowa has harsh laws for marijuana, and state law still says CBD products can only be sold with a dispensary license. Meredith Clark, Marie Claire, "Is CBD Even Legal Where You Live?," 12 Apr. 2019 With its silence, the court gives license to judges around the country to rule that constitutional rights mean different things in different places. Ilya Shapiro, WSJ, "The Supreme Court Is Too Gun-Shy on the Second Amendment," 2 Jan. 2019 Most states require contractors to pass an exam and take annual education courses to maintain a current license; insurance covers employees. Brett Martin, House Beautiful, "Here Are The 8 Interview Questions To Ask A Potential Contractor," 26 Dec. 2018 That’s why Florida wouldn’t let Hawkins sit for the Florida Bar exam, but 11 years later, the Florida Supreme Court decided that Hawkins had been unfairly treated and should be given a license to practice — without taking the test. Lauren Ritchie, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Lake County owes Virgil Hawkins recognition and a thank you for role in civil rights struggle," 12 July 2018 The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is still engaged in a review process that would give the facility a permanent license to operate. Gregory Tejeda, Post-Tribune, "Gary recycling facility gets 6-month permit extension; protests continue," 12 July 2018 But what good does that do when you’ve been given license to experience your most embittered suspicions as cosmic wisdom, and liberty to define your own truth from a drop-down menu of superstition and conspiracy? Laurie Penny, Longreads, "Peterson’s Complaint," 12 July 2018 That seemed to give amateurs license to continue neighborhood displays for days after the holiday, through the following weekend. Ted Slowik, Daily Southtown, "Slowik: I’m for legalizing fireworks if taxes fund safety education," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

That includes Pernod RIcard, which has a separate unit called Our/Vodka that licenses local microdistilleries around the world. Paul Page, WSJ, "Absolut Mixes Machine Learning Into Its Spirits Supply Chain," 9 May 2019 Oliver Schwab, who has been with the Arizona Republican since his successful 2010 congressional campaign, is stepping down to have surgery and work as a U.S. Coast Guard licensed maritime captain. Ronald J. Hansen, azcentral, "Rep. David Schweikert's chief of staff steps down amid ethics probe," 9 July 2018 Stores that aren’t licensed as dispensaries aren’t bound by the same rules. . Meredith Clark, Marie Claire, "Is CBD Even Legal Where You Live?," 12 Apr. 2019 Shake Shack benefited from a net 20 company owned and licensed locations opening during the quarter. Patrick Thomas, WSJ, "Shake Shack Revenue Rises, Helped by Higher Prices," 25 Feb. 2019 Many filmmakers buy rights to synch from licensing platforms such as MusicBed, PremiumBeats, Extreme Music, and APM. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "Why Does Every Tech Ad Use the Same Song? Because of This Man.," 26 Feb. 2019 The catch is that, since ad revenue from these Google services was used to support Android development, Google will start charging device makers that license Google apps but choose the unbundled route. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Google to charge Android OEMs as much as $40 per phone in EU," 19 Oct. 2018 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

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

22 May 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

highly pertinent or appropriate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
True or False

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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!