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

But the Department of Corrections used that as license to interrogate and intimidate. al.com, "Why does God need public records? In Alabama, that’s a real question.," 14 July 2019 That gave Bassitt full license to challenge the White Sox. Ron Kroichick, SFChronicle.com, "Franklin Barreto swats three-run homer as A’s roll past White Sox," 13 July 2019 Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Holldendorfer isn’t expected to be afforded spaces, though his assistant, Dan Ward Jr. has acquired a trainer’s license and applied for stall space. Tod Leonard, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Horsemen looking for fresh start at Del Mar after Santa Anita crisis," 13 July 2019 State officials are expected to begin awarding up to 10 licenses later this month. Washington Post, "Utah farmers and entrepreneurs compete to grow medical pot," 12 July 2019 Walsh has lost her teacher's license and won't be able to teach again. Kevin Grasha, Cincinnati.com, "Ex-Sycamore teacher, once charged with sex crime, sentenced to probation," 12 July 2019 Though its state license and Medicaid contract remain in peril, Hacienda's 60-bed intermediate-care facility is still open. Stephanie Innes, azcentral, "A look inside the walls of embattled Hacienda HealthCare," 12 July 2019 The Carousel closed months after Ruby was arrested following the loss of the club's dance permit and beer license. Maria Elena Vizcaino, Dallas News, "Nancy Myers, who danced as Tammi True at Jack Ruby's Carousel Club, dies at 81," 11 July 2019 The vast majority of American adults have driver’s licenses. Sidney Fussell, The Atlantic, "ICE and the Ever-Widening Surveillance Dragnet," 10 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Omar Avila is lucky — unlike most of the vendors who sell their wares along the bustling Santa Monica Pier, his pushcart is licensed, plastered with permits, and has an A grade from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Sonja Sharp, latimes.com, "Santa Monica street vendors struggle amid new licensing rules," 30 June 2019 But because of various corporate intellectual-property issues, Spider-Man, licensed to Sony by Marvel, didn’t at first mix with the Avengers, who are Disney guys. New York Times, "Review: ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ Is the Latest Iron Man Movie," 27 June 2019 Apple has for years made smartphone and tablet processors that far outperform chips from rivals, designing its own cores instead of licensing them from ARM, and that’s remained true even with ARM’s latest designs. Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, "Apple hires key ARM engineer in race to ditch Intel," 26 June 2019 Other states license dispensaries too, but not all. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Illinois becomes 11th state to legalize recreational pot," 25 June 2019 Volunteers with specialized professional qualifications and training are also needed: attorneys, licensed hairdressers, massotherapists, and pet therapy dogs and their handlers. Other Voices, cleveland.com, "Hospice of the Western Reserve seeks volunteers, offers training sessions," 21 June 2019 The blacklisting blocks Huawei from licensing Google’s Android operating system for future phone models, imperiling its strides made in handset sales in overseas markets. Dan Strumpf, WSJ, "Huawei Expects $30 Billion Revenue Hit From U.S. Clampdown," 17 June 2019 Florida has 686 licensed nursing homes that include 83,910 beds, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration. Christine Sexton, sun-sentinel.com, "Neglect and abuse reported among nursing home Medicaid patients," 13 June 2019 The bill automatically licenses student loan servicers under contract with the U.S. Department of Education. USA TODAY, "Black Union regiment flag, Notorious BIG, Pikachu the mini pony: News from around our 50 states," 12 June 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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Learn More about license

Statistics for license

Last Updated

17 Jul 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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Comments on license

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