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li·cense (līsəns)
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n.
1.
a. Official or legal permission to engage in a regulated activity: "He believed that the subcommittee gave him license to interrogate anyone about any possible links to communism" (Donald A. Ritchie). See Synonyms at permission.
b. A document, card, plate, or tag that is issued as proof of official or legal permission: a driver's license.
c. A contract allowing someone to use a proprietary product or service: has a site license for that software.
2.
a. Freedom of action or permission to act: "Doctors labeled many of the organs of the immune system 'functionless' ... giving surgeons license to remove them with abandon" (Andrew Weil).
b. Poetic license.
3.
a. Lack of due restraint; excessive freedom: "It is important to preserve freedom only for people who are willing to practice self-denial, for otherwise freedom degenerates into license and irresponsibility" (Milton Friedman).
b. Heedlessness for the precepts of proper behavior, especially with regard to sex: "noir stories of the consequences of sexual license" (Foster Hirsch).
c. An excuse or justification to do something wrong: people who see low-fat labels as a license to eat larger amounts.
tr.v. li·censed, li·cens·ing, li·cens·es
1. To give or yield permission to or for: "Deep down I wondered what licensed me to speak" (Jan Clausen).
2. To grant a license to or for; authorize. See Synonyms at authorize.

[Middle English licence, from Old French, from Medieval Latin licentia, authorization, from Latin, freedom, from licēns, licent-, present participle of licēre, to be permitted.]

licens·a·ble adj.
licens·er, licen·sor (-sən-sôr) n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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