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[lahy-suh ns] /ˈlaɪ səns/
noun, verb (used with object), licenced, licencing.
1. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for licence
Historical Examples
  • But if we grant all this licence, what can it effect after all?

  • He was made a delegate of the Red Committee less than a year after his release on licence.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • And I am certain every one who knows you will vote the restoration of your licence!

    Salted With Fire George MacDonald
  • Sir John desires to obtain a licence to build at the mouth of the Fal.

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
  • I have the licence, but it can only be used in my parish in London.

    A Pair of Blue Eyes Thomas Hardy
  • I must give Argile the credit of giving no licence to our on-goings.

    John Splendid Neil Munro
  • I heed not that,” said I, like a hypocrite, “so I get my master his licence.

    Sir Ludar Talbot Baines Reed
  • To do us credit, we availed ourselves of his licence to the uttermost.

    Tom, Dick and Harry Talbot Baines Reed
  • I said I thought he would be by a licence and on registration.

    The War in South Africa

    Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The hurtful influence of this season of licence can be conceived.

British Dictionary definitions for licence


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
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 licence

mid-14c., "liberty (to do something), leave," from Old French licence "freedom, liberty, power, possibility; permission," (12c.), from Latin licentia "freedom, liberty, license," from licentem (nominative licens). present participle of licere "to be allowed, be lawful," from PIE root *leik- "to offer, bargain" (cf. Lettish likstu "I come to terms"). Meaning "formal (usually written) permission from authority to do something" (marry, hunt, drive, etc.) is first attested early 15c. Meaning "excessive liberty, disregard of propriety" is from mid-15c. No etymological justification for the spelling with -s-; attempts to confine license to verbal use and licence to noun use (cf. advise/advice, devise/device) seem to have failed.


c.1400, "grant formal authorization," from license (n.). Related: Licenced; Licencing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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