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

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

As for the current tally, EA’s had the Star Wars license for almost six years now and released two mediocre Battlefront games. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: Call of Duty's battle royale is free-to-try, Steam moved 15 exabytes of data in 2018," 18 Jan. 2019 That doesn't give them license to blame everything that goes wrong in your relationship on you. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "21 Red Flags To Watch Out For In Your Relationship," 22 Aug. 2018 That’ll be followed by a chunk of 24 GHz spectrum with 2,909 licenses, as well as an auction for three more high-spectrum bands — 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz — set for 2019. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "The FCC is auctioning off the first block of mmWave 5G spectrum today," 14 Nov. 2018 Michael Kors Holdings acquired Jimmy Choo last year, setting itself apart from other fashion conglomerates that tend to grow in scale and revenue strictly via licenses, diffusion lines, and the acquisition of more mass-market labels. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Versace Is Not Becoming Michael Kors—the Same Way Jimmy Choo Didn't Become Michael Kors," 26 Sep. 2018 Visit the shop and ask about their artists' licenses, and also check out reviews online. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "21 Things You Should Know Before Getting Your First Tattoo," 2 Aug. 2018 Duran faces charges of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of liquor or drugs, first offense, with BAC of 0.15 or greater with a child under the age of 13, and driving with a suspended, revoked, or canceled license, the statement said. Travis Andersen, BostonGlobe.com, "R.I. woman charged with drunken driving after van with 5 children slams into truck," 12 July 2018 Business owners can find information about economic development initiatives, business licenses, permit applications, and information about the city’s planning and development department. Karen Huppertz, ajc, "Loganville has new website," 11 July 2018 But while the Department of Health goes through the long process of removing a 90-year-old doctor's license, the same exams have been used to declare Calvo incompetent to stand trial on the child pornography charges from last year. David J. Neal, miamiherald, "What could get the doctor’s child porn charges dropped also could cost him his license," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This argument doesn’t really apply to the internet — there aren’t a limited number of websites, and the government doesn’t license them. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Trump keeps complaining about bias on Twitter — but what can he do about it? 8 experts weigh in.," 23 Aug. 2018 The case is one of the more extreme examples of the uphill battle to establish a medical marijuana dispensary even as more states are setting up processes to license them. Lisa Prevost, New York Times, "Despite State Blessing, Marijuana Dispensaries Face Local Rancor," 3 July 2018 MassBiologics, part of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, has also taken drugs into clinical trials before licensing them. Bradley J. Fikes, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Seeking financial security, Scripps Research is taking its science directly to patients," 24 June 2018 Leon ruled that the DOJ had failed to prove that the combined company would have more leverage in negotiations, and that there was insufficient evidence to suggest that AT&T would have the incentive to stop licensing Time Warner to its rivals. Klint Finley, WIRED, "The AT&T-Time Warner Merger Is a Done Deal. Now What?," 12 June 2018 The company, which began 40 years ago as the shoe company Candie's, has grown to include more than two dozen American brands, including Danskin, Umbro and London Fog that the company licenses to mainstream retailers. Renae Merle, chicagotribune.com, "SEC pushes for Jay-Z to comply with subpoena," 4 May 2018 The company also managed to lessen its reliance on licensing intellectual property, which boosted past earnings but is widely seen as unsustainable. Dan Gallagher, WSJ, "IBM: Some Blue Sky for Big Blue," 23 Jan. 2019 Like, has the NHTSA or any of the state DMVs responsible for licensing drivers in this country signed off on this? Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Elon Musk promises big new Tesla Autopilot upgrade, but is it legal?," 10 Dec. 2018 Part of that may come from licensing the technology to the same automakers that left the door open to Rivian’s imminent arrival in the marketplace. Gary Gastelu, Fox News, "Rivian Automotive looking to battle electric cars with battery-powered trucks," 21 Sep. 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 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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Statistics for license

Last Updated

13 Mar 2019

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 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

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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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