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[lahy-suh ns] /ˈlaɪ səns/
formal permission from a governmental or other constituted authority to do something, as to carry on some business or profession.
a certificate, tag, plate, etc., giving proof of such permission; official permit:
a driver's license.
permission to do or not to do something.
intentional deviation from rule, convention, or fact, as for the sake of literary or artistic effect:
poetic license.
exceptional freedom allowed in a special situation.
excessive or undue freedom or liberty.
the legal right to use a patent owned by another.
verb (used with object), licensed, licensing.
to grant authoritative permission or license to.
Origin of license
1325-75; Middle English licence < Middle French < Medieval Latin licentia authorization, Latin: freedom, equivalent to licent- (stem of licēns, present participle of licēre to be allowed) + -ia -ia; see -ence
Related forms
licensable, adjective
licenseless, adjective
licenser; especially Law, licensor, noun
de-license, verb (used with object), de-licensed, de-licensing.
nonlicensable, adjective
nonlicensed, adjective
prelicense, noun, verb (used with object), prelicensed, prelicensing.
relicense, verb (used with object), relicensed, relicensing.
Can be confused
certificate, degree, diploma, license. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for license
  • Soldiers no longer careered with abandon through city streets in cars bearing the red license plates of the military command.
  • It is therefore not only a poetical license, but also philosophically correct, when beauty is named our second creator.
  • Painters and poets have equal license in regard to everything.
  • One can scarcely grasp the extent of the license practised at that time by the architects, even on the churches.
  • Few secrets can escape an investigator, who has opportunity and license to undertake such a quest, and skill to follow it up.
  • As circulation to air, so is agitation and a plentiful degree of speculative license to political and moral sanity.
  • No judge is so cruel as he who indemnifies himself for scrupulosity in cases of blood by license in affairs of smaller importance.
  • News about automobile registration and license plates.
  • Cameras snap license plates, and hefty fines are levied on those who venture into the city by motor vehicle without a permit.
  • These buy up patents and then license them or sue for infringement, rather than using the patents themselves.
British Dictionary definitions for license


a certificate, tag, document, etc, giving official permission to do something
formal permission or exemption
liberty of action or thought; freedom
intentional disregard of or deviation from conventional rules to achieve a certain effect: poetic licence
excessive freedom
Word Origin
C14: via Old French and Medieval Latin licentia permission, from Latin: freedom, from licet it is allowed


verb (transitive)
to grant or give a licence for (something, such as the sale of alcohol)
to give permission to or for
Derived Forms
licensable, adjective
licenser, licensor, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for license

see licence. Related: Licensed; licensing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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