Meaning of LICENSE in English

I. noun

or li·cence ˈlīs ə n(t)s

( -s ; see sense 5 )

Etymology: Middle English licence, from Middle French, from Latin licentia, from licent-, licens (present participle of licēre to be permitted, be for sale) + -ia -y; akin to Latvian līkt to come to terms

1. : permission to act

go from hence without their license — Daniel Defoe


a. : unusual freedom of action permitted because of extenuating circumstances or special prerogatives

in the decoration the Chinese silversmiths had been allowed the utmost license — Osbert Lancaster

reason and common sense were given full license to take no notice of pedants — Stuart Hampshire

had a stranger's license to go everywhere — Nadine Gordimer


(1) : excessive freedom : the abuse of liberties granted

a wave of municipal reform … for the correction of what was regarded as license — Havelock Ellis

Caesar's legions … were enjoying their victory in the license which is miscalled liberty — J.A.Froude

freedom of the press also carries the grave responsibility that it not be turned into license — Time

(2) : abusive disregard for rules of personal conduct : licentiousness

like most women of that character and those circumstances her license was peculiarly unlimited — Tennessee Williams

prenuptial chastity in one tribe and adolescent license in another — Ruth Benedict



(1) : a right or permission granted in accordance with law by a competent authority to engage in some business or occupation, to do some act, or to engage in some transaction which but for such license would be unlawful

a license to sell liquor

a marriage license

a license to practice medicine

(2) : a document evidencing a license granted

b. : authority or permission of one having no possessory rights in land to do something on that land which would otherwise be unlawful or a trespass — distinguished from lease

c. : the grant by a patent holder to another of any of the rights embodied in the patent short of an assignment of a fractional interest therein and short of assigning all the rights protected by the patent

d. : the grant of some but not all of the rights embraced in a copyright

e. Canada : a free miner's certificate

4. : a deviation from strict fact, form, or rule utilized by an artist or writer on the assumption that it will be permitted for the sake of the advantage or effect gained

permitting myself a certain license of treatment, the better to round out the picture — S.H.Adams

has little truck with those who have taken literary license — D.L.Horner

5. plural license chiefly Midland

a. : formal permission from local authorities

b. : a document embodying such permission

get a pair o' license fer to marry — J.W.Riley

II. transitive verb

also licence “

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: Middle English licencen, from licence, n.


a. : to grant or issue a license to (someone) usually after special qualifications have been met

was licensed and later ordained to the ministry — J.C.Brauer

b. : to permit or authorize especially by formal license

patented processes were freely licensed in a general effort to do everything and anything to help win the war — Marquis James


a. : to accord permission or consent to : allow

at a wedding everybody seemed licensed to kiss everyone else — Irwin Shaw

a popular novelist may be licensed to draw on his imagination — A.T.Quiller-Couch

an able man licensed by the times to do pretty much as he pleased — J.H.Hanford


[Middle French licencier, from licence, n.]

archaic : to give permission for departure to : dismiss

thus licensed, the chief … left the presence chamber — Sir Walter Scott

Synonyms: see authorize

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.