[lahy-suh ns]

noun, verb (used with object), li·cenced, li·cenc·ing. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for licence

Historical Examples of licence

  • 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.

British Dictionary definitions for licence


US license


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 effectpoetic licence
excessive freedom

Word Origin for licence

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

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