I was researching the etymology for the French licencier, and Wiktionary refers to Latin licentiare. I can't see it exhibited in Oxford Latin Dictionary (2012 2 ed)

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but Latdict does.

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  1. Please see the title.

  2. What notions underlie authorization with employment termination? Perhaps this is auto-antonymy, but I can't brainstorm how authorization/permission with its positive connotation would be semantically related to employment dismissal that undoubtedly disheartens the employee!

  • 3
    Re: What notions underlie authorization with employment termination, I think it has got to do with the military: you end your military service, and are given permision, which in practice means the end of it.
    – Rafael
    Oct 10, 2019 at 12:14

1 Answer 1


The term "licentiare" comes from medieval, not classical Latin. The OLD, as fine as it is, is mainly useless for medieval latin vocabulary. Better try the Dictionary of Medieval Latin Dictionary from British Sources (DMLBS), freely available at Logeion (https://logeion.uchicago.edu).

For "licentiare" (you must search for verbs in the infinitive, not in the 1st person present, as in most other Latin dictionaries), the DMLBS shows entries as early as 12th century. See here: https://logeion.uchicago.edu/licentiare

The DMLBS' third sense of the term is this:

3 to give leave (to depart), dismiss. b to send on leave, grant furlough, to disband (army); (~are ad propria) to send home. c to dismiss, expel (from office, service, community, or sim.). d to remove or expel (from one’s land), dispossess. e to dissolve (parliament); cf. departire 2a.

which seems akin to the French "licencier".

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