Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A contract binding one party into the service of another for a specified term.
  • noun A deed executed by more than one party.
  • noun An instrument or agreement specifying the terms of a bond or trust.
  • noun A document separated into portions so as to create indentations that allow the holders of the separate portions to match up in order to confirm authenticity.
  • transitive verb To bind into the service of another by indenture.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To indent; wrinkle; furrow.
  • To bind by indenture: as, to indenture an apprentice.
  • To run in a zigzag course; double in running.
  • noun The act of indenting, or the state of being indented; indentation.
  • noun In law: A deed between two or more parties with mutual covenants, having the edge indented for identification and security. See indent, n., 2.
  • noun Now, in general, a deed or sealed agreement between two or more parties.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To indent; to make hollows, notches, or wrinkles in; to furrow.
  • transitive verb To bind by indentures or written contract.
  • noun The act of indenting, or state of being indented.
  • noun (Law) A mutual agreement in writing between two or more parties, whereof each party has usually a counterpart or duplicate, sometimes with the edges indented for purpose of identification; sometimes in the pl., a short form for indentures of apprenticeship, the contract by which a youth is bound apprentice to a master.
  • noun A contract by which anyone is bound to service.
  • intransitive verb To run or wind in and out; to be cut or notched; to indent.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun law A contract which binds a person to work for another, under specified conditions, for a specified time (often as an apprentice).
  • noun law A document, written as duplicates separated by indentations, specifying such a contract.
  • noun An indentation.
  • verb To bind a person under such a contract.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb bind by or as if by indentures, as of an apprentice or servant
  • noun a concave cut into a surface or edge (as in a coastline)
  • noun the space left between the margin and the start of an indented line
  • noun formal agreement between the issuer of bonds and the bondholders as to terms of the debt
  • noun a contract binding one party into the service of another for a specified term

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English endenture, a written agreement, from Anglo-Norman, from endenter, to indent (from the matching notches on multiple copies of the documents); see indent.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Of Anglo‐French endenture, of Old French endenteure, from endenter.

Examples

  • That ended the supply of cheap labour for sugar cane farming and landowners turned to a new practice called indenture, in which labourers were contracted for a limited period of time.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • Adults who were poor but could work became servants; an indenture was their ticket to relief.

    A History of American Law

  • Adults who were poor but could work became servants; an indenture was their ticket to relief.

    A History of American Law

  • In the securities business, an indenture is a legal contract between a borrower and investors, specifying the terms of a bond offering.

    Essential Guide to Business Style and Usage

  • In the securities business, an indenture is a legal contract between a borrower and investors, specifying the terms of a bond offering.

    Essential Guide to Business Style and Usage

  • The so-called indenture, i.e., legalized bondage of native men and women and children to white colonists.

    My life and work,

  • Trivia: the name 'indenture' came from the practice of having 2 copies of the contract, one for each party, which were cut apart in a jagged tooth dente pattern, so they could be matched up at the end of the term and compared.

    HH Com 599

  • After that, an inventory of all the goods, chattels, and plate was to be taken, and an "indenture" or counterpart of the same was to be left with the superior, dating from 1 March, 1536, because from that date all had passed into the possession of the king.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 10: Mass Music-Newman

  • This can only refer to a wooden "indenture" of which each party preserved a copy, each fitting 'in, "dog's teeth like," as the Chinese still say, closely to the other.

    Ancient China Simplified

  • The law respecting fugitive servants was intended to destroy the hopes of runaways in the entertainment they so frequently obtained at the hands of benevolent Quakers and other enemies of "indenture" and slavery.

    History of the Negro Race in America From 1619 to 1880. Vol 1 Negroes as Slaves, as Soldiers, and as Citizens

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