[verb in-dent; noun in-dent, in-dent]
See more synonyms for indent on
verb (used with object)
  1. to form deep recesses in: The sea indents the coast.
  2. to set in or back from the margin, as the first line of a paragraph.
  3. to sever (a document drawn up in duplicate) along an irregular line as a means of identification.
  4. to cut or tear the edge of (copies of a document) in an irregular way.
  5. to make toothlike notches in; notch.
  6. to indenture, as an apprentice.
  7. British. to draw an order upon.
  8. Chiefly British. to order, as commodities.
verb (used without object)
  1. to form a recess.
  2. Chiefly British. to make out an order or requisition in duplicate.
  3. Obsolete.
    1. to draw upon a person or thing for something.
    2. to enter into an agreement by indenture; make a compact.
  1. a toothlike notch or deep recess; indentation.
  2. an indention.
  3. an indenture.
  4. American History. a certificate issued by a state or the federal government at the close of the Revolutionary War for the principal or interest due on the public debt.
  5. British. a requisition for stores.

Origin of indent

1350–1400; Middle English; back formation from indented having toothlike notches, Middle English < Medieval Latin indentātus, equivalent to Latin in- in-2 + dentātus dentate; see -ed2
Related formsin·dent·er, in·den·tor, noun


[verb in-dent; noun in-dent, in-dent]
verb (used with object)
  1. to dent; press in so as to form a dent: to indent a pattern on metal.
  2. to make or form a dent in: The wooden stairs had been indented by horses' hooves.
  1. a dent.

Origin of indent

Middle English word dating back to 1300–50; see origin at in-2, dent1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for indent

pink, depress, cut, dent, serrate, mark, hollow, nick, score, bash, dint, jag, notch, pit, rut, scallop, rabbet

Examples from the Web for indent

Historical Examples of indent

  • He made a copy of the indent in triplicate, as well as an office copy.

    In Mesopotamia

    Martin Swayne

  • And 'e told the orderly to indent me for a brand new uniform.

    The Red Horizon

    Patrick MacGill

  • They are very cautious sailors, and on the least sign of foul weather they run into one of the creeks which indent the coast.

    Asiatic Breezes

    Oliver Optic

  • Ay, wisdom is justified o' her children; an' any other man than me wad ha' made the indent eight hunder.

  • Well, I was just making up an indent, and might as well include your specific if you really needed it.

British Dictionary definitions for indent


verb (ɪnˈdɛnt) (mainly tr)
  1. to place (written or printed matter, etc) in from the margin, as at the beginning of a paragraph
  2. to cut or tear (a document, esp a contract or deed in duplicate) so that the irregular lines may be matched to confirm its authenticity
  3. mainly British (in foreign trade) to place an order for (foreign goods), usually through an agent
  4. (when intr, foll by for, on, or upon) mainly British to make an order on (a source or supply) or for (something)
  5. to notch (an edge, border, etc); make jagged
  6. to bind (an apprentice, etc) by indenture
noun (ˈɪnˌdɛnt)
  1. mainly British (in foreign trade) an order for foreign merchandise, esp one placed with an agent
  2. mainly British an official order for goods
  3. (in the late 18th-century US) a certificate issued by federal and state governments for the principal or interest due on the public debt
  4. another word for indenture
  5. another word for indentation (def. 4)
Derived Formsindenter or indentor, noun

Word Origin for indent

C14: from Old French endenter, from en- 1 + dent tooth, from Latin dēns


verb (ɪnˈdɛnt)
  1. (tr) to make a dent or depression in
noun (ˈɪnˌdɛnt)
  1. a dent or depression

Word Origin for indent

C15: from in- ² + dent 1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for indent

early 15c., indenten/endenten "to make notches; to give (something) a toothed or jagged appearance," also "to make a legal indenture," from Old French endenter "to notch or dent, give a serrated edge to," from Medieval Latin indentare "to furnish with teeth," from in- "into, in, on, upon" (see in- (2)) + Latin dens (genitive dentis) "tooth" (see tooth). Related: Indented; indenting. The printing sense is first attested 1670s. The noun is first recorded 1590s, from the verb. An earlier noun sense of "a written agreement" (late 15c.) is described in Middle English Dictionary as "scribal abbrev. of endenture."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper