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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/
  • 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 54573970:
      , 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, London: Thomas Bennet, p. 28,[1]
      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.
    King Dasharatha requests the Sages to conduct the Vedic ritual for which the sages indent paraphernalia, which the ministers are ordered to supply forthwith Ramayana.







  1. third-person plural future active indicative of indō