A licence is a permit to do something. You need a licence to drive a car. If you spell it licence instead of license, then you’ll be driving on the left side of the road because the “c” ending is British.

A licence, spelled with the “c,” is a noun — like that driver’s licence in your wallet that allows you to drive all over England. In British style, the word license (with an “s”) is only a verb and licence is a noun. So if you can put a/an/or the in front of it, it’s a licence. James Bond had a Licence to Kill in the movie of the same name. Don’t ask to see it!

Definitions of licence

n a legal document giving official permission to do something

license, permit
show 11 types...
hide 11 types...
building permit
a document authorizing the holder to construct a building of a particular kind on a particular lot
driver's licence, driver's license, driving licence, driving license
a license authorizing the bearer to drive a motor vehicle
fishing licence, fishing license, fishing permit
a license authorizing the bearer to fish during a specified period of time
game license, hunting licence, hunting license, hunting permit
a license authorizing the bearer to kill a certain type of animal during a specified period of time
learner's permit
a document authorizing the bearer to learn to drive an automobile
letter of mark and reprisal, letter of marque, letters of marque
a license to a private citizen to seize property of another nation
liquor licence, liquor license
a license authorizing the holder to sell alcoholic beverages
marriage licence, marriage license, wedding licence, wedding license
a license authorizing two people to marry
occupation licence, occupation license
a license to pursue a particular occupation
liberty chit, pass
a permit to enter or leave a military installation
a license to sell liquor for consumption on the premises
Type of:
instrument, legal document, legal instrument, official document
(law) a document that states some contractual relationship or grants some right

n the act of giving a formal (usually written) authorization

license, permission, permit
show 7 types...
hide 7 types...
permission to proceed
conge, congee
formal permission to depart
the act of allowing
an exemption from some rule or obligation
official recognition of the right of individuals to hold dissenting opinions (especially in religion)
the act of tolerating something
an official dispensation to act contrary to a rule or regulation (typically a building regulation)
Type of:
authorisation, authorization, empowerment
the act of conferring legality or sanction or formal warrant

n freedom to deviate deliberately from normally applicable rules or practices (especially in behavior or speech)

poetic license
license used by a writer or artist to heighten the effect of their work
Type of:
freedom of choice

n excessive freedom; lack of due restraint

Type of:
freedom of choice

v authorize officially

certify, license
decertify, derecognise, derecognize
cause to be no longer approved or accepted
grant a franchise to
grant a charter to
accredit, recognise, recognize
grant credentials to
Type of:
authorise, authorize, clear, pass
grant authorization or clearance for

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.