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

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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 And that is the way in which the European Union indentures British liberty and democracy. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "The Difficulty of Brexit Is the Case for Brexit," 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, "Windstream in Peril After Losing Default Ruling to Aurelius," 16 Feb. 2019 The Old World models were more like an indenture, where there was a term of labor to be paid, and then freedom would be granted. Kelley Fanto Deetz, The Conversation, "Setting the historical record straight for the critics of The New York Times project on slavery in America," 23 Aug. 2019 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 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, "Corporations Are Salivating Over the Coronavirus Pandemic," 3 Apr. 2020 He's indentured to a bunch of redneck fur trappers, scouring the ground for anything edible. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Kelly Reichardt's 'First Cow' is a slow-burning thriller you need to see. Here's why," 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, "A scoring opportunity Ahead of oil riches, Guyana holds a decisive election," 27 Feb. 2020 The clause should be read, Sumner held, as referring to apprentices, convicts, and indentured servants. Timothy Sandefur, National Review, "The Anti-Slavery Constitution," 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, "The Invention of Thanksgiving," 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, "Renluka Maharaj’s latest show digs deep into family, home and glitter," 26 Oct. 2019 For this reason, some commentators have likened the H-1B program to indentured servitude. Noah Smith, The Denver Post, "Noah Smith: The U.S. needs more of India’s and China’s best and brightest," 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,, "Book review: ‘This Tender Land’ a harrowing Depression-era coming-of-age tale," 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.

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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

Time Traveler

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

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Cite this Entry

“Indenture.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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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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Nglish: Translation of indenture for Spanish Speakers

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