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


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

Definition of indenture (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

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

Examples of indenture in a Sentence

Noun 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 Although most terms of indenture lasted for as long as seven years, de Sousa earned his freedom in 1638 by learning to be a fur trader and a sailor. Kevin Dayhoff,, 11 June 2021 Chatterton was accused of plagiarism and soon lost his indenture. Thomas Chatterton Williams, Harper's Magazine, 25 May 2021 Possibly the most glaring effect of Haskell’s absence lies in Inej’s indenture. Devon Maloney, Vulture, 23 Apr. 2021 In this new version, Kaz is personally paying off her indenture in installments, meaning that she’s technically still owned by Tante Heleen, the madam of the Menagerie. Devon Maloney, Vulture, 23 Apr. 2021 People who are held at the Menagerie are forced to get a tattoo of a peacock feather, which Inej scrapes off the moment Kaz pays off Heleen to end her indenture, thereby freeing her. Angie Orellana Hernandez, Los Angeles Times, 23 Apr. 2021 The exhibit also displays the indenture of the Native woman Alice Sachemus to the Otis family., 9 Apr. 2021 And that is the way in which the European Union indentures British liberty and democracy. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, 29 Oct. 2019 Aurelius and the trustee, U.S. Bank National Association, say the deal constituted a sale and leaseback transaction, which was prohibited by the indenture on the notes. Washington Post, 16 Feb. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb On their land, the colonists built plantations, fortified them, and brought in enslaved Africans and indentured Europeans to produce tobacco for the emerging world market and to defend the territory militarily. Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò, The New Republic, 3 Apr. 2020 He's indentured to a bunch of redneck fur trappers, scouring the ground for anything edible. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, 11 Mar. 2020 Oil could change Guyana as radically as did sugar, which brought African slaves in the 18th century and indentured labourers from India in the 19th. The Economist, 27 Feb. 2020 The clause should be read, Sumner held, as referring to apprentices, convicts, and indentured servants. Timothy Sandefur, National Review, 12 Sep. 2019 During the next two centuries, New England Indians also suffered indentured servitude, convict labor, and debt peonage, which often resulted in the enslavement of the debtor’s children. Philip Deloria, The New Yorker, 18 Nov. 2019 Her grandparents were indentured servants who worked six days a week, 16-hours a day on sugar plantations. Ray Mark Rinaldi, The Know, 26 Oct. 2019 For this reason, some commentators have likened the H-1B program to indentured servitude. Noah Smith, The Denver Post, 22 Oct. 2019 Along the way, they are held captive by a mad farmer who treats them as quasi family and indentured servants, visit homeless camps and meet train-hopping hobos. Oline Cogdill,, 16 Sep. 2019

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.

See More

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

Learn More About indenture

Time Traveler for indenture

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near indenture




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for indenture

Cite this Entry

“Indenture.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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

More from Merriam-Webster on indenture

Nglish: Translation of indenture for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!