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Alternative forms[edit]

  • (British, Canadian, Australian, Irish, South African and New Zealand English) licence (noun)


From Old French licence, from Latin licentia (license), from licens, present participle of licere (to be allowed, be allowable); compare linquere, Ancient Greek λείπω (leípō, leave).


  • IPA(key): /ˈlaɪsəns/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: li‧cense
English Wikipedia has an article on:


license (countable and uncountable, plural licenses)

  1. A legal document giving official permission to do something; a permit.
    • 1970, Monty Python's Flying Circus, season 2, episode 10:
      Hello. I would like to buy a fish licence please.
  2. The legal terms under which a person is allowed to use a product, especially software.
    • 1986, Thomas Smedinghoff, The Legal Guide to Developing, Protecting, and Marketing Software[1], page 166:
      Thus, while the license will grant the user the right to use the software, a major concern is the scope of that use. For example, will the user be granted the right to copy, modify, or transfer the software?
  3. Freedom to deviate deliberately from normally applicable rules or practices (especially in behaviour or speech).
    • 2012, Chris Seepe, The Conspiracy to Assassinate Jesus Christ[2], page 5:
      In some instances, the author took license to include events which never happened, or to purposely create events which may run in the face of popular conjecture if the author felt it would help the story along.
  4. Excessive freedom; lack of due restraint.
    • 1936, Will Durant and Ariel Durant, The Story of Civilization, page 520:
      When liberty becomes license dictatorship is near.
  5. Short for driver's license.
    In order to enter the building, I need to show my license.

Usage notes[edit]

  • In British English, Canadian English, Australian English, Irish English, South African English and New Zealand English the noun is spelt licence and the verb is license.
  • The spelling licence is not used for either part of speech in the United States.

Derived terms[edit]



license (third-person singular simple present licenses, present participle licensing, simple past and past participle licensed)

  1. To give a formal (usually written) authorization.
    • 2013 June 22, “T time”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8841, page 68:
      The ability to shift profits to low-tax countries by locating intellectual property in them, which is then licensed to related businesses in high-tax countries, is often assumed to be the preserve of high-tech companies.
    It was decided to license Wikipedia under the GFDL.
  2. Authorize officially.
    I am licensed to practice law in this state.

Derived terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]