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  1. a privilege of a public nature conferred on an individual, group, or company by a government: a franchise to operate a bus system.
  2. the right or license granted by a company to an individual or group to market its products or services in a specific territory.
  3. a store, restaurant, or other business operating under such a license.
  4. the territory over which such a license extends.
  5. the right to vote: to guarantee the franchise of every citizen.
  6. a privilege arising from the grant of a sovereign or government, or from prescription, which presupposes a grant.
  7. Sports.
    1. the right to own or operate a professional sports team as a member of a league.
    2. a professional sports team.
    3. a player of great talent or popular appeal, considered vitally important to a team's success or future.
  8. a set of creative works and related merchandise that share a fictional world, as films, television shows, books, or games:the Star Wars franchise;the Pokémon franchise.
  9. a legal immunity or exemption from a particular burden, exaction, or the like.
  10. Obsolete. freedom, especially from imprisonment, servitude, or moral restraint.
verb (used with object), fran·chised, fran·chis·ing.
  1. to grant (an individual, company, etc.) a franchise: The corporation has just franchised our local dealer.
  2. enfranchise.

Origin of franchise

1250–1300; Middle English < Old French, derivative of franc free. See frank1
Related formsfran·chis·a·ble, adjectivefran·chis·a·bil·i·ty, nounfran·chise·ment [fran-chahyz-muh nt, -chiz-] /ˈfræn tʃaɪz mənt, -tʃɪz-/, nouno·ver·fran·chised, adjectivesub·fran·chise, noun, verb (used with object), sub·fran·chised, sub·fran·chis·ing.un·fran·chised, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for franchise


  1. the franchise the right to vote, esp for representatives in a legislative body; suffrage
  2. any exemption, privilege, or right granted to an individual or group by a public authority, such as the right to use public property for a business
  3. commerce authorization granted by a manufacturing enterprise to a distributor to market the manufacturer's products
  4. the full rights of citizenship
  5. films a film that is or has the potential to be part of a series and lends itself to merchandising
  6. (in marine insurance) a sum or percentage stated in a policy, below which the insurer disclaims all liability
  1. (tr) commerce, mainly US and Canadian to grant (a person, firm, etc) a franchise
  2. an obsolete word for enfranchise
Derived Formsfranchisee, nounfranchiser, nounfranchisement (ˈfræntʃɪzmənt), noun

Word Origin

C13: from Old French, from franchir to set free, from franc free; see frank
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

Word Origin and History for franchise


late 13c., from Old French franchise "freedom, exemption; right, privilege" (12c.), from variant stem of franc "free" (see frank (adj.)). Sense narrowed 18c. to "particular legal privilege," then "right to vote" (1790). Meaning "authorization by a company to sell its products or services" is from 1959.


late 14c., from Old French franchiss-, past participle stem of franchir "to free" (12c.), from franc (see frank (adj.)). Franchising is from 1570s; the commercial licensing sense is from 1966. Related: Franchisee; franchiser; franchisor.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

franchise in Culture



Removal of the franchise, or right to vote.



Removal of the franchise, or right to vote.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.