De*ben"ture(?; 135), n. [L. debentur they are due, fr. debere to owe; cf. F. debentur. So called because these receipts began with the words Debentur mihi.] 1. A writing acknowledging a debt; a writing or certificate signed by a public officer, as evidence of a debt due to some person; the sum thus due.
2. A customhouse certificate entitling an exporter of imported goods to a drawback of duties paid on their importation.
It is applied in England to deeds of mortgage given by railway companies for borrowed money; also to municipal and other bonds and securities for money loaned.
3. Any of various instruments issued, esp. by corporations, as evidences of debt. Such instruments (often called
debenture bonds) are generally, through not necessarily, under seal, and are usually secured by a mortgage or other charge upon property; they may be registered or unregistered. A debenture secured by a mortgage on specific property is called a
mortgage debenture; one secured by a floating charge (which see), a
floating debenture; one not secured by any charge
a naked debenture. In general the term debenture in British usage designates any security issued by companies other than their shares, including, therefore, what are in the United States commonly called bonds. When used in the United States debenture generally designates an instrument secured by a floating charge junior to other charges secured by fixed mortgages, or, specif., one of a series of securities secured by a group of securities held in trust for the benefit of the debenture holders.
[Webster 1913 Suppl.]
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