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Middle English, from Anglo-French licence, from Latin licentia, from licent-, licens, present participle of licēre to be permitted


  • 1 a : permission to act
b : freedom of action
  • 2 a : a permission granted by competent authority to engage in a business or occupation or in an activity otherwise unlawful
b : a document, plate, or tag evidencing a license granted
c : a grant by the holder of a copyright or patent to another of any of the rights embodied in the copyright or patent short of an assignment of all rights
  • 3 a : freedom that allows or is used with irresponsibility
b : disregard for standards of personal conduct : licentiousness
  • 4 : deviation from fact, form, or rule by an artist or writer for the sake of the effect gained

synonyms see freedom— licensed adjective