License or licence – which form is correct?

License or licence? Which form is correct? And what is the difference between these two words? Is one a misspelling of another? Or perhaps they are both correct but differ in the meaning or function? Read this article to find the answers to all these questions.

License or licence? Which form is correct meaning definition correct form difference examples

License or licence? Which one is correct?

It turns out that both license and licence are correct! Furthermore, the meaning of both words is exactly the same. One could say that they are two variants of the same word, however, they cannot be used interchangeably. Read the following section to find out why.

License or licence? What is the difference?

The difference between license and licence is that they refer to different parts of speech. This is already confusing enough, but to make matters worse, it also depends on how people use them in different regions.

License is both a noun and a verb in the United States and licence is not used there at all, but in British variants of English license is only correct when you use it as a verb, and when you use it as a noun the correct form is licence.

Read the following section with the meaning of license and licence to memorize the difference.

License or licence – the meaning

License as a verb means to give someone official permission to do, have or use something or to have an official document that gives you such permission. As mentioned in the above section, license as a verb is used both in American and British English, and in the US it is also used as a noun.

Licence is a noun and is only used in British English and it refers to an official document that gives you permission to own, do or use something. It also means the freedom or permission to do what you want.

You can find some examples of how to use license and licence in the final section of this article.

License or licence? Examples from the literature and press

“If you folks at the City Hall don’t even know what penguins are, I guess you haven’t any rule saying they have to be licensed. I will do without a license for Captain Cook.”

Richard Atwater, Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Discovery has licensed the movies “Dune” and “Prometheus” in recent months, and Disney is renting out movies and older series to Netflix as well.

New York Times, Jan 24, 2024

Those technicians, who worked for an outside vendor called Surgical Solutions, were not licensed to treat patients.

New York Times, Dec 21, 2023

Written by

After graduating with a MA in English Philology, Kasia lived for almost five years in the UK facing the challenge of trying to master the intricacies of English language, which is her consuming passion. Other things she enjoys doing in her spare time are singing in a local parish band, embroidery, reading, cycling, and enjoying the outdoors with her family and friends.