1. A certificate or voucher acknowledging a debt.
2. An unsecured bond issued by a civil or governmental corporation or agency and backed only by the credit standing of the issuer.
3. A customhouse certificate providing for the payment of a drawback.
[Middle English debentur, from Latin dēbentur, they are due (probably the first word appearing on certificates of indebtedness), third person pl. passive of dēbēre, to owe; see ghabh- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.