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Alternative forms[edit]


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
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license ‎(countable and uncountable, plural licenses)

  1. A legal document giving official permission to do something; a permit.
  2. The legal terms under which a person is allowed to use a product, especially software.
    Even if you bought this product, it does NOT belong to you. You have a license to use it under the terms of this agreement, until you breach this agreement.
  3. (US) (Can we verify(+) this sense?) Freedom to deviate deliberately from normally applicable rules or practices (especially in behavior or speech).
  4. (US) 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. An academic degree, the holder of which is called a licentiate, ranking slightly below doctorate, awarded by certain European and Latin-American universities.

Usage notes[edit]

  • In British English, Canadian English, Australian English, Irish 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.




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

  1. The act of giving a formal (usually written) authorization.
    • 2013 June 22, “T time”, 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.

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