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Partly from Middle English indenten (to dent in), equivalent to in- +‎ dent (see dent); partly from Middle English indenten, endenten, from Old French endenter (to provide with teeth), from en- (in-, en-) + dent (tooth), from Latin dēns.


  • (noun) IPA(key): /ˈɪndɛnt/, /ɪnˈdɛnt/
  • (file)
  • (verb) IPA(key): /ɪnˈdɛnt/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛnt


indent (plural indents)

  1. A cut or notch in the margin of anything, or a recess like a notch.
  2. A stamp; an impression.
  3. A certificate, or intended certificate, issued by the government of the United States at the close of the Revolution, for the principal or interest of the public debt.
  4. A requisition or order for supplies, sent to the commissariat of an army.



indent (third-person singular simple present indents, present participle indenting, simple past and past participle indented)

  1. (transitive) To notch; to jag; to cut into points like a row of teeth
    to indent the edge of paper
  2. (intransitive) To be cut, notched, or dented.
  3. To dent; to stamp or to press in; to impress
    indent a smooth surface with a hammer
    to indent wax with a stamp
  4. (historical) To cut the two halves of a document in duplicate, using a jagged or wavy line so that each party could demonstrate that their copy was part of the original whole.
  5. (intransitive, reflexive, obsolete) To enter into a binding agreement by means of such documents; to formally commit (to doing something); to contract.
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, →OCLC:
      , New York, 2001, p.91:
      The Polanders indented with Henry, Duke of Anjou, their new-chosen king, to bring with him an hundred families of artificers into Poland.
    • 1698, Robert South, Twelve Sermons upon Several Subjects and Occasions[1], London: Thomas Bennet, page 28:
      And is this now the Person who is to oblige his Maker? to indent and drive bargains with the Almighty?
    • 1803, John Browne Cutting, “A Succinct History of Jamaica” in Robert Charles Dallas, The History of the Maroons, London: Longman and Rees, Volume 1, pp. xlii-xliii,[2]
      [] he accidentally met with the commander of a trading vessel bound to Barbadoes, and being actuated by an adventurous spirit, [he] bargained for a passage by indenting himself to serve a planter for four years after his arrival in that island.
  6. (transitive, obsolete) To engage (someone), originally by means of indented contracts.
    to indent a young man to a shoemaker; to indent a servant
  7. (typography) To begin (a line or lines) at a greater or lesser distance from the margin. See indentation, and indention. Normal indent pushes in a line or paragraph. "Hanging indent" pulls the line out into the margin.
    to indent the first line of a paragraph one em
    to indent the second paragraph two ems more than the first
  8. (obsolete, intransitive) To crook or turn; to wind in and out; to zigzag.
  9. (military, India, dated) To make an order upon; to draw upon, as for military stores.
    • 1832 May 23, John Byng examining Jasper Nicolls in the House of Commons:
      What is the rule observed in India in indenting upon England for military stores ?


  • (antonym(s) of typography): unindent
  • (antonym(s) of typography): outdent

Derived terms[edit]






  1. third-person plural future active indicative of indō