in·​den·​ture | \ in-ˈden-chər How to pronounce indenture (audio) \

Definition of indenture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : a document or a section of a document that is indented
(2) : a formal or official document usually executed in two or more copies
(3) : a contract binding one person to work for another for a given period of time often used in plural
b : a formal certificate (such as an inventory or voucher) prepared for purposes of control
c : a document stating the terms under which a security (such as a bond) is issued
3 [ 3indent ] : dent


indentured; indenturing\ in-​ˈden-​ch(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce indenturing (audio) \

Definition of indenture (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to bind (someone, such as an apprentice) by or as if by indentures

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Examples of indenture in a Sentence


the dropped hammer left an indenture in the floor made a small indenture to mark the spot where the plank was to be sawed

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The trust indenture expressly forbade moving the Barnes art. Stephan Salisbury,, "Open space restrictions will keep Barnes Foundation Chester County estate free from development," 10 May 2018 Of course, the same trust indenture that expressly forbids moving the Merion wall ensembles and the foundation’s desire to do so, announced in 2002, led to one of the epic legal battles in American art history. Stephan Salisbury,, "Barnes Foundation says St. Joe's lease deal does not mean sales are in the works," 19 Mar. 2018 Since the financial crisis, private-equity firms in particular, have taken advantage of strong, high-yield markets to increasingly write in looser terms in bond indentures and credit agreements at their portfolio companies. Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "J.Crew Holdouts Stumble in Debt-Exchange Lawsuit," 26 Apr. 2018 GoldenTree’s law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP spelled out the concern in a letter last week saying that investors were troubled about a potential financing deal built around a misreading of Frontier’s debt indentures. Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "Frontier Communications Creditors Jockey in Refinancing Push," 5 Apr. 2018 Why should someone with no interest in college indenture himself for a year for the pay of a scholarship and a small stipend? Paul Daugherty,, "Paul Daugherty: Darius Bazley's G League gamble will have fallout for years to come," 31 Mar. 2018 And the art moved, trust indenture notwithstanding. Stephan Salisbury,, "Barnes Foundation says St. Joe's lease deal does not mean sales are in the works," 19 Mar. 2018 Last year the 1860 Indian Museum, dedicated to indenture, opened in Durban. The Economist, "The legacy of Indian migration to European colonies," 31 Aug. 2017 But there is also power in the complementary argument that Republicans have coopted the language of freedom to impose a form of indenture. Brian Beutler, New Republic, "Democrats, Not Republicans, Stand for “Freedom” in Health Care," 20 July 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Buried in the Centennial State’s 1876 constitution is a provision that technically permits a person to be sentenced to slavery or indentured servitude if convicted of a crime. Andrew O'reilly, Fox News, "Colorado ballot measure would remove 'slavery' from state constitution," 30 July 2018 Very little is known about Wisher, due to the nature of her indentured service to Pickersgill, which some have noted is not uncommon for those who were indentured during that time. Rikki Byrd, Teen Vogue, "The American Flag Was Sewn in Part By A Teenage Black Girl," 4 July 2018 Out of context, these are all traditionally seen as serviceable gestures that reminds many of the historical inequalities of labor that black women endured: slavery, indentured servitude, and so on. Alisha Acquaye, Teen Vogue, "What Social Media Showed Me About Perceptions of Black Women in Beauty," 18 June 2018 And on a political level, this particular Freedom Day stirs up a volatile mixture of pride and debasement, hope and exasperation for black South Africans indentured on the farm. Justin Hayford, Chicago Reader, "Mies Julie depicts a postapartheid South Africa still mired in its legacy of colonialism and racism," 6 June 2018 Across history, this was often in the context of colonialism, indentured servitude and slavery. Nicole Creanza, Scientific American, "How People Talk Now Holds Clues about Human Migration Centuries Ago," 4 Mar. 2018 Some American Indians were also indentured, while others were enslaved. Eoin O'carroll, The Christian Science Monitor, "No, the Irish were not slaves in the Americas," 16 Mar. 2018 The giant corporation Innovative Online Industries, and its head, Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), are racing the individual gamers to the prize, using indentured labor to scour the Oasis for clues. Alyssa Rosenberg,, "'Ready Player One' seems like a celebration of fandom, but it's actually a dire warning," 1 Apr. 2018 And if there aren't enough American doctors, for instance, who want to work in some small town in Oklahoma, the solution is not to import foreign doctors and indenture them to work in a small town. Jaclyn Cosgrove,, "Fewer foreign doctors are coming to study in the United States, report shows," 16 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'indenture.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of indenture


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


1676, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for indenture


Middle English endenture, from Anglo-French, from endenter

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Time Traveler for indenture

The first known use of indenture was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for indenture


in·​den·​ture | \ in-ˈden-chər How to pronounce indenture (audio) \

Legal Definition of indenture

1 : a document stating the terms under which a security (as a debenture or other bond) is issued specifically, in bankruptcy law : a document (as a mortgage or deed of trust) under which there is outstanding security constituting a claim against a debtor, a claim secured by a lien on any of the debtor's property, or an equity security of the debtor
2 : a deed or other document to which two or more parties (as both grantor and grantee) are bound

History and Etymology for indenture

Old French endenture an indented document, from endenter to indent (divide a document into sections with irregular edges that can be matched for authentication), from en- thoroughly + dent tooth

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More from Merriam-Webster on indenture

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with indenture

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for indenture

Spanish Central: Translation of indenture

Nglish: Translation of indenture for Spanish Speakers

Comments on indenture

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to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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