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

City law requires drivers wear helmets and have a valid driver’s license. Washington Post, "First bikes, then scooters, now mopeds. Next up: trikes and e-cargo bikes.," 10 Aug. 2019 Between December 2015 and February 2016, however, authorities said Hall used another person’s information to obtain a social security card, an Alabama driver’s license, and a U.S. passport. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "Alabama child sex suspect pleads guilty to faking his own death and fleeing to Thailand," 8 Aug. 2019 He was found to have a full extradition warrant out of Pennsylvania for assault and he was arrested on the warrant and cited for not having a driver’s license. cleveland.com, "Lyft driver takes woman and girl on shoplifting spree in city: Mayfield Heights Police Blotter," 8 Aug. 2019 This corresponds with information on his 1933 driver’s license. Dawn Mitchell, Indianapolis Star, "John Dillinger's last meal included red peppers. What we know about the outlaw's autopsy and burial.," 2 Aug. 2019 Neither had identification, and both had suspended driver’s licenses, according to the report. Jennifer James, Houston Chronicle, "Forgotten iPhone leads to arrest of woman with counterfeit money, Friendswood police say," 1 Aug. 2019 Drivers must be at least 18 years old and have a driver’s license. San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego’s pedicab crackdown getting mixed reviews," 28 July 2019 One of Newsom’s passions in the book was the Department of Motor Vehicles, that hated but necessary agency that makes folks waste their day waiting to get a driver’s license. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "Can Anyone Fix the DMV?—Data Sheet," 25 July 2019 In May 2017, hackers and scammers were able to access the names, birthdays, credit card numbers and driver license numbers of Equifax’s customers for a total of 76 days, according to a House Oversight Committee report cited by the Los Angeles Times. Jason Duaine Hahn, PEOPLE.com, "Affected by the Equifax Data Scandal? You Can Now File a Claim for $125 or More," 25 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Music-focused virtual reality startup MelodyVR has entered music licensing agreements with Beggars Group Digital Limited and Domino Recording Company. Tatiana Cirisano, Billboard, "MelodyVR Signs Licensing Deals With Beggars Group and Domino Recordings," 8 Aug. 2019 The center specializes in rehabilitating predator species and is one of only two facilities in California licensed to rehabilitate black bears. Ramona Sentinel, "Wildlife center seeing record number of patients," 18 July 2019 Now, for almost all journals, and a growing number of books, libraries sign contracts to license access to digital versions. Mackenzie Smith, The Conversation, "University of California’s showdown with the biggest academic publisher aims to change scholarly publishing for good," 15 July 2019 Only licensed pest control operators should attempt the job—though even professionals might balk at the prospect of tackling an oversized hub of angry wasps, Ray says. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Alabamians, Beware the Wasp ‘Super Nest’," 1 July 2019 The home is regulated and licensed by the Illinois Department of Human Services, has 24/7 staff support, and provides transportation to and from clinical services. Rafael Guerrero, Elgin Courier-News, "New drug treatment facility in Elgin touts communal living, modern amenities," 11 June 2019 And a broader fear — that the feds could simply shut everything down someday — would potentially be abated, at least for the businesses that are licensed and in compliance with state regulations. Kimberly Veklerov, San Francisco Chronicle, "Federal cannabis bill would help California marijuana businesses get banking," 8 June 2018 The county requires dog and cat owners to license their pets each year. Kate Magill, Howard County Times, "Howard proposal adds teeth to laws on leaving dogs outdoors in frigid weather," 7 June 2018 The drug giant Novartis licensed the CAR-T technology from the University of Pennsylvania. Charles Graeber, WIRED, "How Scientists Built a ‘Living Drug’ to Beat Cancer," 25 July 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.

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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

14 Aug 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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