AskDefine | Define license

Dictionary Definition



1 a legal document giving official permission to do something [syn: licence, permit]
2 freedom to deviate deliberately from normally applicable rules or practices (especially in behavior or speech) [syn: licence]
3 excessive freedom; lack of due restraint; "when liberty becomes license dictatorship is near"- Will Durant; "the intolerable license with which the newspapers break...the rules of decorum"- Edmund Burke [syn: licence]
4 the act of giving a formal (usually written) authorization [syn: permission, permit] v : authorize officially; "I am licensed to practice law in this state" [syn: licence, certify] [ant: decertify]

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings

  • (Commonwealth English) licence (noun only)

Usage notes

In British and Australian English, licence is a noun and license is a verb. Canadian English uses licence for the noun and license or licence for the verb.


  • /ˈlaɪsəns/, /"laIs@ns/


  1. A legal document giving official permission to do something, a permit.
  2. The legal terms under which a person is allowed to use a product, especially software.
    Even if you bought this product, it does NOT belong to you. You have a license to use it under the terms of this agreement, until you breach this agreement.
  3. Freedom to deviate deliberately from normally applicable rules or practices (especially in behavior or speech)
  4. Excessive freedom; lack of due restraint.
    When liberty becomes license dictatorship is near, Will Durant
  5. An academic degree, the holder of which is called a licentiate, ranking slightly below doctorate, awarded by certain European and South American Universities.


legal document giving official permission to do something
legal terms of product usage


  1. The act of giving a formal (usually written) authorization.
    It was decided to license Wikipedia under the GFDL.
  2. Authorize officially.
    I am licensed to practice law in this state.


act of giving a formal authorization
authorize officially

Extensive Definition

The verb license or grant license means to give permission. The noun licence (or license in American spelling) is the document demonstrating that permission. License may be granted by a party ("licensor") to another party ("licensee") as an element of an agreement between those parties. A shorthand definition of a license is "a promise (by the licensor) not to sue (the licensee)."

Intellectual property

A licensor may grant license under "intellectual property" to do something (such as copy software or use a patented invention) without fear of a claim of intellectual property infringement brought by the licensor.
A license under intellectual property commonly has several component parts, including a term, territory, renewal, as well as other limitations deemed vital to the licensor.
Term: many licenses are valid for a particular length of time. This protects the licensor should the value of the license increase, or market conditions change.
Territory: a license may stipulate what territory the rights pertain to. For example, a license with a territory limited to "North America" (United States/Canada) would not permit a licensee any protection for actions in Japan.

Mass licensing of software

Mass distributed software is used by individuals on personal computers under license from the developer of that software. Such license is typically included in a more extensive end-user license agreement (EULA) entered into upon the installation of that software on a computer.
Under a typical end-user license agreement, the user may install the software on a limited number of computers.
The enforceability of end-user license agreements is sometimes questioned.

Trademark and brand licensing

A licensor may grant permission to a licensee to distribute products under a trademark. With such a license, the licensee may use the trademark without fear of a claim of trademark infringement by the licensor.

Artwork and character licensing

A licensor may grant a permission to a licensee to copy and distribute copyrighted works such as "art" (e.g., Thomas Kincaid's painting "Dawn in Los Gatos") and characters (e.g., Mickey Mouse). With such license, a licensee need not fear a claim of copyright infringement brought by the licensor.


National examples of the License are listed at Licentiate
A licence is an academic degree. Originally, in order to teach at a university, one needed this degree which, according to its title, gave the bearer a license to teach. The name survived despite the fact that nowadays doctorate is typically needed in order to teach at a university. A person who holds a licence is called a licentiate.
In Sweden and some European universities it is approximately equivalent to an MPhil or MRes. In those countries, a licence is a middle-level degree between a master's degree and a doctorate, taken by doctoral canidates, and is a popular choice in those countries where a "true" Phd would take five or more years to achieve.
In other countries, i.e. Poland or France, a licence is achieved before the master's degree (it takes 3 years of studies to become licentiate and 2 additional years to become Master).In Switzerland, a licence is a 4-year degree then there is a DEA degree which is equivalent to the Master's degree. In Portugal, before the Bologna process, students would become licentiates after 5 years of studies (4 years in particular cases like Marketing, Management, etc; and 6 years for Medicine). However, since the adoption of the Bologna Process engineering degrees in Portugal were changed from a 5 year licence to a 3 year licence followed by 2 years for the MSc: Not having the MSc doesn't confer accreditation by the Ordem dos Engenheiros)
license in Bulgarian: Лиценз
license in Czech: Licence
license in German: Lizenz
license in Spanish: Licencia
license in Esperanto: Permesilo
license in French: Licence (juridique)
license in Croatian: Licenca
license in Italian: Licenza (informatica)
license in Hungarian: Licenc
license in Dutch: Licentie
license in Japanese: ライセンス
license in Korean: 라이선스
license in Norwegian: Konsesjon
license in Norwegian Nynorsk: Konsesjon
license in Polish: Licencja
license in Portuguese: Licença
license in Russian: Лицензия
license in Albanian: Liçensë (Software)
license in Simple English: License
license in Finnish: Lisenssi
license in Ukrainian: Ліцензія

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Lehrfreiheit, OK, academic freedom, accredit, admission, agency, agentship, allow, allowance, anarchy, approve, assign, assignment, assumption, authority, authorization, authorize, blank check, brevet, building permit, care, carte blanche, certificate, certify, chaos, charge, charter, commission, commissioning, commit, commitment, confusion, consent, consign, consignment, constitutional freedom, copyright, cure, debauchery, debauchment, delegate, delegated authority, delegation, deputation, depute, deputize, detach, detail, devolute, devolution, devolve, devolve upon, devolvement, diplomatic immunity, discharge, disobedience, dispensation, dissipation, dissoluteness, document, embassy, empower, empowerment, enable, enfranchise, entitle, entrust, entrusting, entrustment, errand, exception, executorship, exemption, exequatur, fabulous formless darkness, factorship, familiarity, fastness, favor, fishing license, foul-up, franchise, freedom, freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of worship, full power, gallantry, give in charge, give official sanction, give power, grant, hassle, hubris, hunting license, immunity, imposition, imprimatur, indiscipline, indulgence, insubordination, interregnum, irresponsibility, jurisdiction, lawlessness, laxity, leave, legalize, legation, legislative immunity, legitimize, let, liberties, libertinage, libertinism, liberty, liberty abused, licentiousness, lieutenancy, loose, looseness, mandate, misrule, mission, mix-up, morass, muddle, mutiny, nihil obstat, office, okay, patent, permission, permission to enter, permit, plenipotentiary power, post, power of attorney, power to act, power vacuum, presumption, presumptuousness, privilege, procuration, profligacy, proxy, purview, rakishness, rampant will, ratify, regency, regentship, relaxation, release, responsibility, run, sanction, screw-up, send out, slackness, snafu, special favor, special permission, suffer, task, the Four Freedoms, the run of, ticket, ticket of admission, transfer, trust, trusteeship, unaccountability, unbridledness, uncontrol, undue liberty, unrestraint, validate, venery, vicarious authority, vouchsafement, waiver, warrant, wenching, whoring, wildness, willfulness
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