Definition of indenture in English:



  • 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 or contract of which copies were made for the contracting parties with the edges indented for identification and to prevent forgery.
      • ‘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. 1.4mass noun The state of being bound to service by an indenture.
      ‘the bracelet on his wrist represented his indenture to his master’
      • ‘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.’


[with object]historical usually be indentured to
  • Bind (someone) by an indenture as an apprentice or labourer.

    ‘Dick was indentured to the Company in 1917’
    as adjective indentured ‘indentured labourers’
    • ‘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).