mid-15c., "written acknowledgment of a debt" (early 15c. in Anglo-Latin), from Latin debentur "there are due" (said to have been the first word in formal certificates of indebtedness in Medieval Latin, debentur mihi "there are owing to me"), passive present indicative third-person plural of debere "to owe," originally, "keep something away from someone," from de "away" (see de-) + habere "to have" (from PIE root *ghabh- "to give or receive"). In recent use especially of a bond issued by a corporation (1837). Related: Debentured.
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