, ME–16 lycence
, ME–15 lysence
, (15 laysance
, ... (Show More)
Frequency (in current use):
< French licence
, < Latin licentia
, < licēre
to be lawful. Compare Spanish ... (Show More)
Liberty (to do something), leave, permission. Now somewhat rare
. †Also occas.
(something). †Formerly often in phr. licence and leave; by, with, without (a person's) licence; to get, give, have, obtain, take (a) licence. (Cf. leaven.1
1362 LanglandPiers Plowman A. Prol. 82 And askeþ leue and lycence at londun to dwelle.
c1386 ChaucerWife of Bath's Prol. 855 If I have licence of this worthy frere.
1422 T. HoccleveMin. Poems (1892) 223 Now, sire, yit a word, by your licence.
1493 Charter in A. Laing Lindores Abbey (1876) xvii. 179 Anentis the making of out men burges but licens of the said abbot.
a1500 (▸?c1450) Merlin (1899) i. 17 She ansuerde prayinge she myght speke with hir confessour; and they yaf hir lycence.
a1513 H. BradshawLyfe St. Werburge (1521) i. ii. sig. a.iiiiv, Whose names we purpose, to shewe with lycens.
1526 Bible (Tyndale) John xix. f. clv, And Pilate gave him licence.
1532 Fortescue's Abs. & Lim. Mon. (1714) 119 Hou long any of them may be absent, hou he schal have his leve and licence..may be conceyvyd by leysure.
1548 Hall's Vnion: Henry IV f. x, The duke was banished..and yet without license of Kyng Richarde he is returned again into the realme.
c1550 Complaynt Scotl. (1979) xvii. 115 He gat neuyr lecens to marye, quhil on to the tyme, that [etc.].
1551 R. Robinson tr. T. More Vtopiaii. sig. Jiiv, The people..haue geuen a perpetual licence from labour to learnyng.
1640 Order Ho. Commons in J. Rushworth Hist. Coll.: Third Pt. (1692) I. 143 Mr. R. H. has License to go and speak with Sir G. R.
1675 R. BaxterCatholick Theol.ii.i. 122 Doth God forbid it? No; he commandeth it, which is more than leave or licence.
1719 D. DefoeFarther Adventures Robinson Crusoe 247 It would be difficult to go from hence without their License.
1761 D. HumeHist. Eng. I. App. ii. 256 If he sold his estate without licence from his lord.
1765 W. BlackstoneComm. Laws Eng. I. i. i. 133 The king..may..prohibit any of his subjects from going into foreign parts without licence.
1807 G. CrabbeVillage (rev. ed.) in Poems 23 Who take a license round their fields to stray.
1838 C. ThirlwallHist. Greece V. 81 The declaration..was now interpreted..as a license to restore their political unity.
1861 J. S. MillUtilitarianism v. 66 Others would confine the license of disobedience to unjust laws.
1888 M. MorrisClaverhouse vi. 110 The same license was granted to him for dealing with all future criminals of the same class.
Leave or permission to depart; chiefly in phrase, to take one's licence, to take one's leave; also licence and congee. Obs.
(Cf. congeen.2 2b
[a1450 (▸c1410) H. LovelichHist. Holy Grail xvi. l. 67 The king hem ȝaf license Forto gon from his precense.]
1475 Bk. Noblesse 30 Good men of armes..discoragethe them as sone as paiment failethe, and takethe theire congie and licence of theire prince.
1509 S. HawesPastime of Pleasure (1845) v. 24 Of her than I dyd take my lycence.
1558 T. Phaer tr. Virgil Seuen First Bks. Eneidosiv. K j b, Fayne wold he flee, and of that contrey sweete his licence take.
A formal, usually a printed or written permission from a constituted authority to do something, e.g.
to marry, to print or publish a book, to preach, to carry on some trade, etc.; a permit. Also in phrases †book of licence (see bookn. 1d
), letter of licence and composition (see quot. 1809
), licence of mortmain (see mortmainv.
); (to marry) by licence in opposition to by banns
1433 Rolls of Parl. IV. 467/1 To praye..the kynge to graunte licence of Exchaunge, under his grete Seal.
1463 in Manners & Househ. Expenses Eng. (1841) 187 We..charge you to suffyr hym..to enjoye our sayd lycence wyth outyn any let.
1526 W. BondePylgrimage of Perfectioniii. sig. CCiii, This is she that in maner hath distroyed all relygions, by the reason of dispensacions or lycences.
1549 in Vicary's Anat. Bodie of Man (1888) App. iii. 136 [To] requyre yow..to drawe a booke of Lysaunce from his Maiestie, to the Maior and Auldremen [etc.].
1552–3 Inventory Church Goods in Ann. Diocese Lichfield (1863) IV. 46, xl s. peyd to the bysshope for his laysance to byrrey.
1611 M. Smith in Bible (King James) Transl. Pref. 6 They must first get a Licence in writing before they may vse them [the Scriptures].
1617 in Grosart's Spenser (1882) III. p. ci, John fflorio, esquier, and Rose Spicer marrdby licence from Mr. Weston's Office.
1641 Declar. Both Houses in J. Rushworth Hist. Coll.: Third Pt. (1692) I. 515 Captain S. did by vertue and authority of Your Majesties License, embark at White-Haven.
1649 F. ThorpeCharge York Assizes 20 For a Badgers or Drovers License two shillings.
1724 R. WodrowLife J. Wodrow (1828) 53 The form of his licence [to preach] I insert from the original.
1748 B. Robins & R. WalterVoy. round World by Ansoniii. x. 410 A licence for the shipping of his stores and provisions.
1763 Brit. Mag.4 495 Would you keep your pearls from tramplers, Weigh the licence, weigh the bans.
1767 W. BlackstoneComm. Laws Eng. II. 269 It..is..necessary, for corporations to have a licence of mortmain from the crown.
1776 A. SmithInq. Wealth of Nations I. i. vi. 59 Men must..pay for the licence to gather [the..fruits].
1797 E. BurkeLett. Peace Regic. France iii, in Wks. (1815) VIII. 406 Licences to dealers in spirits and wine.
1809 R. LangfordIntrod. Trade 108 A Letter of License is an instrument or writing granted to a debtor by his creditors, giving him respite and time for payment of his debts... When..they not only grant respite and time for payment, but agree to allow an abatement on their respective accounts, then this instrument is called a Letter of License and Composition.
1833 H. MartineauBerkeley the Bankeri. iv. 92 A fine of £100 for every act of issue after the term of license has expired.
1840 MacaulayRanke's Hist. in Ess. (1843) III. 240 A congregation is formed. A license is obtained. A plain brick building,..is run up, and named Ebenezer or Bethel.
1841 E. Bulwer-LyttonNight & Morningi. i, Do you marry by license? No; my intended is not of age.
1851 R. Nesbit in Mem. (1858) xii. 305 After receiving ‘licence’, he preached in the Mission Lecture Room.
1872 W. H. DixonW. Penn (rev. ed.) vii. 61 ‘The Sandy Foundation Shaken’ was printed without a license from the Bishop of London.
b. The document embodying such a permission.
1598 B. Yong tr. G. Polo Enamoured Diana in tr. J. de Montemayor Diana 393 The Kings licence being now come.
1633 P. MassingerNew Way to pay Old Debtsiv. i. sig. H3, Pray ride to Nottingham, get a licence.
1683 in C. Mackay Coll. Songs London Prentices (1841) 81, I bade her [sc. my hostess] on her licence look.
1888 Daily News 28 Sept. 3/3 There was a custom among cab proprietors of ‘chair-marking’ their drivers' licences.
1899 W. RaymondTwo Men o' Mendip xv. 249 He'd have no choice but to marry us, when I did come, licence in han'.
c. In some Universities, a certificate of competency in some faculty.
1728 E. ChambersCycl. (at cited word), Licence is also used for the Letters or Certificates taken out in the Universities, whether in Law, Physic, or Divinity.
1900–1901 Durham Univ. Cal. 141 Final Examination for the Licence in Theology.
1900–1901 Durham Univ. Cal. 487 Licence in Sanitary Science.
a. Liberty of action conceded or acknowledged; an instance of this.
?a1400 Morte Arth. 457 Thy lycence es lemete in presence of lordys.
a1600 A. MontgomerieMisc. Poems xxxvi. 48 That nou sik licience haif we none.
a1616 ShakespeareAntony & Cleopatra (1623) i. ii. 101 Taunt my faults With such full License, as both Truth and Malice Haue power to vtter.
1656 T. StanleyHist. Philos. II. v. 5 The true license of disputations.
1747 S. RichardsonClarissa I. vi. 35 Do you so understand the licence you have, Miss?
1817 J. MillHist. Brit. India II. iv. ix. 299 English law..has neither definition nor words to..circumscribe the license of the Judge.
1834 M. EdgeworthHelen III. v. 93 The first little fib in which Lady Cecilia, as a customary licence of speech, indulged herself the moment she awoke this morning.
1850 C. KingsleyAlton Locke I. xi. 171, I thanked him again for what license he had given me.
1868 E. EdwardsLife Sir W. Ralegh I. xiii. 249 He..allowed great and public licence to his tongue.
1875 R. BrowningAristophanes' Apol. 337 The rooted plant aspired to range With the snake's license.
1884 Manch. Examiner 20 Feb. 4/7 Ordinary license of speech has seldom been more shamefully exceeded.
b. Excessive liberty; abuse of freedom; disregard of law or propriety; an instance of this.
c1450 tr. Thomas à Kempis De Imitatione Christii. xvi. 18 Oþer mennes large licence displesiþ us, but we to ourself wol have no þinge denyed þat we aske.
a1616 ShakespeareTwelfth Night (1623) iii. ii. 42 Taunt him with the license of Inke.
1644 MiltonAreopagitica 4 Lest I should be condemn'd of introducing licence, while I oppose Licencing.
1692 R. L'EstrangeFables (1708) xv. 20 Under the Allegory of the Ass is Insinuated the License of a Buffoon.
1719 E. YoungBusirisii. 20 Your Heart resents some Licence of my Youth.
a1720 J. SheffieldWks. (1753) I. 272 They are for licence, not for liberty.
1780 R. B. SheridanSchool for Scandali. i. 7 The licence of invention, some people give themselves, is astonishing.
1797 E. BurkeLett. Peace Regic. France iii, in Wks. (1815) VIII. 366 The intolerable licence with which the newspapers break..the rules of decorum.
1813 ScottRokebyi. xvii. 26 My license shook his sober dome.
1840 C. ThirlwallHist. Greece VII. 315 The license which he gave to his troops to enrich themselves with the spoil of the country.
1850 F. W. RobertsonSerm. (1864) 3rd Ser. i. 3 The first license given to the tongue is slander.
1867 R. W. EmersonProgr. Culture in Wks. (1906) III. 226 The freedom of action goes to the brink..of license.
1881 B. F. Westcott & F. J. A. HortNew Test. in Orig. Greek II. Introd. i. 9 The mixture has been accompanied or preceded by such licence in transcription.
c. Licentiousness, libertinism.
1713 R. Steele in Guardian 1 Apr. 1/2 The Cause of much Licence and Riot.
1823 ScottPeveril II. v. 132 His unlimited licence..has disgusted the minds of all sober and thinking men.
1841 G. O. TrevelyanLife & Lett. Macaulay (1876) I. ii. 84 The reaction from Puritanic rigour into the license of the Restoration.
1847 G. P. R. JamesJohn Marston Hall ix, The license of every kind that then existed in the city no tongue can tell nor pen can describe.
1901 Expositor May 367 These implements of license were originally made by God.
4. Deviation from recognized form or rule, indulged in by a writer or artist for the sake of effect; an instance of this. Frequent in phrase poetic (poetical, etc.) licence.
1530 J. PalsgraveLesclarcissement 44 Which auctors do rather by a lycence poetycall.
1656 J. SmithMyst. Rhetorique 49 By the licence of this figure we give names to many things which lack names, &c.
1697 DrydenDed. Æneis in tr. Virgil Wks. sig. f1, I generally join these two Licenses together.
1728 E. ChambersCycl. Licences, in Painting, are the Liberties which the Painter takes in dispensing with the Rules of Perspective, and the other Laws of his Art.
a1771 T. GrayObserv. Eng. Metre in Wks. (1884) I. 359 As to any license in the feet, it is only permitted in the beginning of a long verse.
1819 ByronDon Juan: Canto I cxx. 63 This liberty is a poetic licence.
1859 C. KingsleyMisc. (1860) I. 227 The poem..allows a metrical licence.
1877 L. Tollemache in Fortn. Rev. Dec. 846 By a prophetic license, perpetual means transitory.
1899 F. T. BullenLog of Sea-waif 179 Coleridge's simile of ‘A painted ship upon a painted ocean’ is only a poet's licence.