Licence - license

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In British English, the first of these is the spelling for the noun. The verb is spelled with an '-s-'. (See also practice - practise and defence - defense.)

In American English, the spelling with '-s-'. license, is standard for both noun and verb.
Etymological note: OED notes "The spelling license, though still often met with, has no justification in the case of the noun. In the case of the verb, on the other hand, although the spelling licence is etymologically unobjectionable, license is supported by the analogy of the rule universally adopted in the similar pairs of related words, practice noun, practise verb, prophecy noun, prophesy verb. (The rule seems to have arisen from imitation of the spelling of pairs like advice noun, advise verb, which expresses a phonetic distinction of historical origin.)
  • A licence is, first, a written permission to do something: for example, to drive a car on the road you need a driving licence; to be legally permitted to receive broadcasts from the air, you need a television licence.
  • One may be licensed to do something: all pubs in the UK carry a board which states that [the manager or owner] is licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquors; and the fictional James Bond (007) is "licensed to kill."

There are also two derivatives spelled with '-t-'.

  • The noun licentiate is only used in certain contexts. It means 'a person who has received [and earned] a licence'. Some teachers have a licence to teach the subject they practise, for example licentiates of the Royal Academy of Music (LRAM). (A person who holds the sort of licence that one can obtain easily, like a Television Licence or a licence to sell alcohol, is usually a licensee.)
  • The adjective licentious means 'behaving in a way not governed by rules', 'behaving as if one had permission to do as one likes'. (This comes from a second, more general meaning of the noun licence: 'a relaxation of the usual rules' as in "In the Middle Ages, Christmas was a time of great licence." Licentious is often applied to people whose sexual behaviour is loose and uncontrolled.
You may also like to see practice - practise