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What is the difference between license and licence? Are both variations accepted in US and UK?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 22 down vote accepted

In British English license is the verb and licence is the noun. American English uses license for both noun and verb.

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I remember that the noun has a letter 'c' by thinking of how I can 'see' a licence ... 'see' = letter 'c', get it? –  Snubian Oct 19 '11 at 22:15
I remember it by thinking about the difference in pronunciation between "advise" and "advice". –  Mal Ross May 14 '13 at 15:40

The Corpus of Contemporary American English has 10263 incidences for license and just 91 for licence. The British National Corpus, in contrast, has 4217 for licence and 333 for license. Of those, 129 were for noun uses of license.

From this we can say that in the United States, the spelling license is nearly universal and licence is virtually unknown (with a ratio of more than 100 to 1 in favor of license). In Britain, the spelling licence is much more common than license, but the more common spelling is only about 13 times more common, so license is a small minority but not unknown spelling.

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