mid-14c., "liberty (to do something), leave," from from Fr. licence, from L. licentia "freedom, liberty, license," from licentem (nom. licens). prp. of licere "to be allowed, be lawful," from PIE base *leik- "to offer, bargain." Meaning "formal (usually written) permission from authority to do something" (marry, hunt, drive, etc.) is first attested early 15c. Meaning "excessive liberty, disregard of propriety" is from mid-15c. The verb is first attested late 14c. No etymological justification for the spelling with -s-; attempts to confine license to verbal use and licence to noun use (cf. advise/advice, devise/device) seem to have failed. Related: Licensed; licensing.