Definition of indenture in English:


Pronunciation /ˌinˈden(t)SHər/ /ˌɪnˈdɛn(t)ʃər/

See synonyms for indenture

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  • 1A legal agreement, contract, or document.

    contract, agreement, covenant, compact, bond, pledge, promise, warrant, undertaking, commitment, settlement, arrangement, understanding
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1historical A deed of contract of which copies were made for the contracting parties with the edges indented for identification.
      ‘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.’
      • ‘The two halves of the indenture, preserved in the Records Office of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, show that Shakespeare was represented by his brother Gilbert.’
      • ‘The name Sheldon appears alongside those of Shakespeare's friends in Warwickshire indentures and conveyances, and in the medical casebook of Shakespeare's son-in-law.’
    2. 1.2A formal list, certificate, or inventory.
      ‘indentures recording the number of 1377 taxpayers’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The rights of bondholders are determined differently because a bond agreement, or indenture, represents a contract between the issuer and the bondholder.’
      • ‘The contractual remedy provided for in the trust indenture did not preclude alternative relief being granted under the oppression remedy.’
      • ‘The indenture system was based on the assumption that the owner of an indenture owned a human property, and the 1818 Constitution upheld the standing validity of all contracts, including indentures.’
      • ‘The indenture conveying these rights was left in the hands of George Holdrege of the Burlington railroad.’
    3. 1.3An agreement binding an apprentice to a master.
      ‘the 30 apprentices have received their indentures on completion of their training’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We note that in The Parish of St Pancras case an attorney's clerk, articled by indenture, was held to be an apprentice and to gain a settlement as such for poor law purposes.’
      • ‘After Xavier bought out my indentures, I was presented with a number of careers.’
      • ‘Paddy can be clever and quick-witted enough when presented with an opportunity to shirk the duties set forth in his indentures, but otherwise he's as weak-minded as a fish.’
      • ‘The company employing him went bankrupt, his indentures were cancelled and he was now totally without any future.’
      • ‘Shakespeare was married at the age of 19 to Anne Hathaway, probably before his indenture to the butcher was over.’
      • ‘His medical training began in 1820 with his indenture to a local surgeon.’
    4. 1.4The fact of being bound to service by an agreement of indenture.
      ‘men in their first year after indenture to the Company of Watermen and Lightermen’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The second difference between the Han and aboriginal indentured girls is the family members involved in their indenture.’
      • ‘This was referred to as ‘adoption’ and was distinct from binding them to labor for a master under indenture.’
      • ‘The lord could not seize the laborer's property, sell the indenture to a third party, or sell the laborer into slavery.’
      • ‘The indenture records the terms on which a man was engaged to serve his lord; it would normally specify his wages and, if it was a long-service contract, his retaining fee.’
    5. 1.5historical 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.
      ‘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.’
      • ‘Moreover, the abrogation of indenture contracts in 1900 eliminated the condition under which many Japanese immigrated to this country.’
      • ‘When their terms of indenture were over, some moved to Johannesburg and Cape Town, but most remained in the eastern region.’
      • ‘Labour drawn from a reserve became regulated through systems of migration where migrants were employed on contracts known as indentures.’
      • ‘This indenture system, which had satisfied the planter aristocracy's demand for workers, was abolished in British Guiana in 1917.’

transitive verb

[with object]historical
  • usually be indentured toBind (someone) by an indenture as an apprentice or laborer.

    as adjective indentured ‘landowners tried to get their estates cultivated by indentured laborers’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He was indentured to a baker who had a Masters degree in pastry cooking, and was acknowledged as one of the best chefs in the locality.’
    • ‘Most often these children were indentured to a master for maintenance in return for their labor.’
    • ‘In the traditional way, he was indentured as a welder and began his apprenticeship at the Technical College.’
    • ‘They actually want you to treat them like indentured servants!’
    • ‘In the 19th century, most of the brothels of the East were staffed by Japanese girls, or they were sold to factories as indentured textile workers.’
    • ‘Following the abolition of slavery in 1835, Indian indentured labourers were introduced to work the sugar plantations.’
    • ‘Yes, we should all live within our budget, even government, lest we all become indentured servants.’
    • ‘But it also vigorously polemicised on behalf of Indian indentured labourers.’
    • ‘In Austria there were major and minor nobles, small farmers who were freemen, indentured farmers and serfs.’
    • ‘It was also the day when indentured servants were given the day off to celebrate with their families.’
    • ‘The Indian population also became largely urban as indentured workers left the sugar estates.’
    • ‘People from different parts of India, now called Indo-Fijians, came to work as indentured laborers on sugar plantations.’
    • ‘The employment bureau furnished the information necessary to know that a worker was indentured and should not be lured away.’
    • ‘Slave, servant, indentured servant, serf, it all meant the same to me.’
    • ‘Families rather than indentured servants went to Massachusetts, and to Connecticut, which received a royal charter in 1662.’
    • ‘In the 1860s they had brought Indian indentured labourers to work in the sugarcane plantations of Natal.’
    • ‘Instead single parents indentured their children and many others came from the poorhouse and other asylums.’


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