Permit “Legally” Defined

The following definitions for “permit” are taken from Ballantine’s Law Dictionary (3rd edition), Bouvier’s Law Dictionary (6th edition), Black’s Law Dictionary (2nd edition), and Webster’s Dictionary (1828):




Verb: To give permission; to license. To grant leave or liberty; to allow to be done by giving consent or by not prohibiting [Wilson v. State, 19 Ind App 389, 46 NE 1050]. To tolerate [Cowley v. People, 83 NW 464].

Noun: A permission granted in writing, such as a building permit. A license.



A license or warrant to do something not forbidden by law; as, to land goods imported into the United States, after the duties have been paid or secured to be paid [Act. of Cong. of 2d March, 1799, s. 49, cl. 2. See form of such permit, Gord. Dig. Appendix. No. II. 46].



A license or instrument granted by the officers of excise, (or customs,) certifying that the duties on certain goods have been paid, or secured, and permitting their removal from some specified place to another [Wharton].

A written license or warrant, issued by a person in authority, empowering the grantee to do some act not forbidden by law, but not allowable without such authority.



PERMIT, v.t. [L. permitto; per and mitto, to send].

  1. To allow; to grant leave or liberty to by express consent.
  • He asked my leave and I permitted him.
  1. To allow by silent consent or by not prohibiting; to suffer without giving express authority. The laws permit us to do what is not expressly or impliedly forbid.
  • What God neither commands nor forbids, he permits with approbation to be done or left undone.
  1. To afford ability or means.
  • Old age does not permit us to retain the vigor of youth.
  • The man’s indigence does not permit him to indulge in luxuries.
  1. To leave; to give or resign
  • Let us not aggravate our sorrows, but to the gods permit the event of things.

o   [The latter sense is obsolete or obsolescent]



  1. A written license or permission from the custom house officer or other proper authority, to export or transport goods or to land goods or persons.
  2. Warrant; leave; permission.
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