variants: or licence

Synonyms & Antonyms of license

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 the approval by someone in authority for the doing of something
  • the company is seeking license to operate several more power plants in the state

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2 the granting of power to perform various acts or duties
  • a restaurant owner has to get a license to serve food and drink

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3 the right to act or move freely
  • military commanders on the ground must be granted considerable license, as wars cannot be micromanaged by people back in Washington

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variants: also licence

Synonyms & Antonyms of license (Entry 2 of 2)

to give official or legal power to
  • a state statute licenses county sheriffs to choose their own deputies

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See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About license

How is the word license different from other nouns like it?

The words freedom and liberty are common synonyms of license. While all three words mean "the power or condition of acting without compulsion," license implies freedom specially granted or conceded and may connote an abuse of freedom.

freedom without responsibility may degenerate into license

Where would freedom be a reasonable alternative to license?

Although the words freedom and license have much in common, 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

When is it sensible to use liberty instead of license?

The synonyms liberty and license are sometimes interchangeable, but liberty suggests release from former restraint or compulsion.

the released prisoner had difficulty adjusting to his new liberty

Learn More About license

Time Traveler for license

Time Traveler

The first known use of license was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“License.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on license

Nglish: Translation of license for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of license for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about license


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