Definition of indenture in English:


Line breaks: in|den|ture
Pronunciation: /ɪnˈdɛntʃə


  • 1A legal agreement, contract, or document, in particular:
  • 1.1 historical A deed or contract of which copies were made for the contracting parties with the edges indented for identification and to prevent forgery.
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    • Similarly, violations of bondholder rights by persons other than the company generally will not result in a breach of the bond indenture, since these persons are not party to the indenture.
    • By an indenture of the same date executed by them, the Somerset Estate was appointed and transferred to the 4th Duke.
    • At the dawn of the twentieth-century, baby farms provoked sensation, newspapers advertised babies, and indentures and deeds were still used to exchange children.
  • 1.2A formal list, certificate, or inventory: indentures recording the number of 1377 taxpayers
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    • This can be expressed as a ratio or as the conversion price, and is specified in the indenture along with other provisions.
    • Many of the local indentures of the fifteenth century survive too; at first glance they seem informative, but can be misleading as to electoral method.
    • The creditors said that the bond indenture allowed a foreclosure on the company's assets in lieu of repayment.
  • 1.3An agreement binding an apprentice to a master: the 30 apprentices have received their indentures on completion of their training
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    • Apprentices' indentures issued by the Edinburgh College of Surgeons in the 1720s forbad trainees to exhume the dead - which suggests that they had been doing so.
    • Apprenticeship indentures from the 1880s make interesting reading.
    • Fortunately he was literate and his indenture involved legal training.
  • 1.4 [mass noun] The state of being bound to service by an indenture: the bracelet on his wrist represented his indenture to his master
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    • Today, we are shocked when young children are put to work for pennies a day in India, or China, in conditions of indenture that approximate slavery.
    • Even girls without a good relationship with their parents forgave them and accepted their indenture as a filial duty.
    • Parents also begged the girls not to reveal the parents' involvement in the indenture to the police, and accused the girls of being unfilial if they did.
  • 1.5 historical A contract by which a person agreed to work for a set period for a landowner in a British colony in exchange for passage to the colony.
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    • Once used to bring workers to the American and West Indian colonies, indentures exchanged a fixed period of labour for transportation, payment, food, and housing.
    • Servitude became a central labor institution in early English America: Between one-half and two-thirds of all white immigrants to the British colonies arrived under indenture.
    • More would have made the trans-Atlantic voyage, but poverty had forced many into debt or indenture.


[with object] (usually be indentured to) chiefly • historical Back to top  
  • Bind (someone) by an indenture as an apprentice or labourer: Dick was indentured to the Company in 1917 (as adjective indentured) indentured labourers
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    • She is hopelessly indentured to her wicked stepmother who treats her like a voluptuous doormat.
    • Most of us are indentured to one or another degree to any of a number of physical and psychological desires.
    • He left school at 16 years of age, with no idea what he wanted to do, so his father indentured him as an apprentice in his company.



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  • Their will to survive, no matter the obstacles, was pivotal in releasing them from the physical and psychological bondage that characterised indentureship.
  • Oh well one could hold out hope that they were selling themselves into some sort of indentureship and this would be the last episode.
  • By distancing herself, Condé is able to explore anew the ethno-social legacy of slavery and indentureship in a French Caribbean village.


late Middle English endenture, via Anglo-Norman French from medieval Latin indentura, from indentatus, past participle of indentare (see indent1).

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