While writing my last two articles about bank checking tips, How to sign a check over to someone else and Why you should always write “for deposit only” on your checks, I was reminded of the difference between the terms “indorse” and “endorse.”

Though the different meanings have become a bit blurred in modern times, there is still a difference.

In short, “indorse” is a legal term used to describe the transfer of a negotiable instrument. When you sign the back of a check, you are “indorsing” that check.

“Endorse,” on the other hand, is a term used to signify your approval of something or someone. “I endorse Micky Mouse for President of the United States.”

In modern banking practice, “endorse” is often used in place of “indorse.” That is, some banks will refer to the act of “endorsing” a check or other negotiable instrument. In fact, many spell-checker programs don’t even recognize “indorse” as being a proper word! Still, it’s not technically correct. The Uniform Commercial Code, which is the set of laws governing financial transactions in the United States, uses only the term “indorse.”

Note, however, that the opposite substitution is never valid – you cannot indorse Micky Mouse for President of the United States.