- noun a space or series of spaces from the left margin, when starting a line of text
- verb to start a line of text with a space in from the left margin
- In masonry, a gap left in a course by the omission of a masonry unit. An indent is used for bonding future masonry.
Information & Library Science
- verb to leave a space at the beginning of a passage of writing
- noun the amount of white space at the beginning and end of lines of text
- noun a blank space at the beginning of a line of typesetting, which starts a little way in from the left-hand margin
Origin & History of “indent”
Etymologically, English has two separate words indent, although they have converged to a considerable extent over the centuries (particularly in the virtually shared derivative indentation). The one meaning ‘(make) a hole or depression’ (14th c.) is simply a derivative of dent, which itself probably originated as a variant of dint. Indent ‘make notches in’ (14th c.), however, owes its origin to Latin dēns ‘tooth’. this formed the basis of an Anglo-Latin verb indentāre, which denoted the drawing up of a contract between two parties on two identical documents, which were cut along a matching line of notches or ‘teeth’ which could subsequently be rejoined to prove their authenticity. A particular use of such contracts was between master craftsmen and their trainees, who hence became known as indentured apprentices.