General English


  • noun an order placed by an importer for goods from overseas


  • 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

Media Studies

  • noun the amount of white space at the beginning and end of lines of text


  • noun an official request for ammunition, equipment, rations, etc.


  • 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.