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

Once all the kids were out of the house, mom became a professional artist and got her pilot’s license. Marc Myers, WSJ, "Told She’d Never Make It, Christine Lahti Has the Last Laugh," 27 Nov. 2018 Findlay went to college, got his private pilot's license and got a job. Eric Tegler, Ars Technica, "400mph, 50 feet up—what it takes to race and win world’s fastest motorsport," 30 Aug. 2018 Forty years later, almost half as many 16-year-olds are getting a license. Mary Bernard, Philly.com, "Fewer teens are getting their drivers' licenses," 28 June 2018 Dealership employees then identified Williams' involvement, allowing detectives to hone in on their main suspect and arrest Dedrick for murder charges in the first degree, a probation violation for theft of a car and driving without a valid license. Michael Saponara, Billboard, "New Court Documents Reveal XXXTentacion's Killers Followed Him Into Motorcycle Dealership," 23 June 2018 He is also being slapped with a probation violation for a previous grand theft charge and driving without a valid license. Breanna Edwards, The Root, "Suspect Arrested, Charged With Murder of Rapper XXXTentacion: Report," 21 June 2018 Dedrick Williams, 22, of Pompano Beach, was booked into Broward’s jail shortly after 11:30 p.m Wednesday on charges of murder without premeditation, violation of probation and driving without a valid license, records show. Doug Phillips, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Suspect arrested in shooting death of rapper XXXTentacion," 21 June 2018 WeWork would need to get a license for each location in California. Trisha Thadani, San Francisco Chronicle, "WeWork’s free beer to flow again, legal or not," 7 June 2018 For example, Florida restricts gun purchases by minors under 21, but does not require firearms dealers to obtain a state license. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "Gun Control Measures in the Midterms: How You Can Make a Difference With Your Vote," 30 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

That’s why the publication of this phase 3 trial is big news: that’s the last stage that drug trials need to go through before the company can apply for the drug to be licensed by regulatory bodies like the FDA. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Some promising news for kids with peanut allergies," 23 Nov. 2018 Each company pays roughly three quarters of its revenue to license music, according to their financial filings, making profits elusive. Anne Steele, WSJ, "Spotify, Pandora Turn to Podcasts for Listeners, Profits," 18 Nov. 2018 All of the measures would legalize possessing, using, buying, and selling pot for medicinal purposes, and allow the state to license and regulate dispensaries through a new system. German Lopez, Vox, "Three ballot initiatives aimed to legalize medical marijuana. Only one won.," 7 Nov. 2018 Pennsylvania used to license more than 14,000 new teachers annually. Oona Goodin-smith, Philly.com, "Families of Cosmo DiNardo murder victims speak out, Pa. to pay $2M to fight teacher shortage | Morning Newsletter," 13 July 2018 The company, which is not abandoning research into tropical diseases such as malaria, is looking to license its early-stage products and stressed that its Sandoz generics unit continues to manufacture and sell antibiotics and antivirals. Ed Silverman, STAT, "Pharmalittle: Most drug price hikes occurred before Azar arrived; Novartis abandons antibiotics," 12 July 2018 Levy was not registered in Arkansas, but VA physicians do not need to be licensed in the state of the hospital, said hospital spokesperson Wanda Shull. Washington Post, "Former VA pathologist denies being impaired on duty," 9 July 2018 Maine legalized cannabis for recreational use in 2016, but until this May, the state had not put in place a plan to license retailers. Matthew Ormseth, courant.com, "What To Know About Recreational Marijuana Sales in Massachusetts," 5 July 2018 Anyone who wants to grow the crop has to be licensed or permitted by the state department of agriculture. William L. Spence, idahostatesman, "Congress has moved to OK this once-controversial crop, and Idaho could benefit bigtime," 4 July 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

Middle English, from Anglo-French licence, from Latin licentia, from licent-, licens, present participle of licēre to be permitted

Verb

see license entry 1

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Statistics for license

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

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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