licence vs license

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licence vs license

Post by Joe » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:28 am

I received the following enquiry from Paul:
Hi Josef,

You mentioned one British / English word that I believe has some variation, but it did not get mentioned in the notes.

That word was “licence” / “license”. First, I agree with your assignment of these two with respect to the noun – my Australian driver’s licence uses that spelling.

However, when it comes to the verb, I don’t use “licence”. Is “license” the correct verb in British English? According to one of my previous documentation writers, its use is disputed.

However, my experience hasn’t indicated this. With the verb or adjectival forms, even in British English I have never seen “licence” used – for example, in the sentences, “I am licensing my car for three years.” and “I must visit the licensing centre.”

Do you have any “deeper insight” on this?
Hi Paul

I’d agree with you. For me born and bred in England we have to license our car and show the licence to the police

However, authorities such as Oxford mention that "licence" is an acceptable alternative spelling for the verb in British English, which surprises me - but who am I to argue with the likes of Oxford? :)

So, to recap, for me personally and in UK generally:
license verb
licence noun

Similar to practise and practice

Hope that helps

"We are not wholly bad or good, who live our lives under Milk Wood"
prayer of the Reverend Eli Jenkins in Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas

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