cov·​er·​ture ˈkə-vər-ˌchu̇r How to pronounce coverture (audio)
: the status a woman acquires upon marriage under common law

Examples of coverture in a Sentence

under the coverture of a raging snowstorm, the rebels undertook their surprise attack on the fortress
Recent Examples on the Web Heavenly Mother, according to our own doctrine, can’t be some wilting Victorian flower shrinking under the protective coverture of a strong man. The Salt Lake Tribune, 7 May 2022 The famous legal scholar William Blackstone had interpreted coverture rather strictly in the 1760s, and the American Revolution did nothing to change that. Washington Post, 25 Feb. 2022 That started to change by about the 18th century, when coverture laws—which counted wives as legal property of their husbands—grew more entrenched in Britain, and evolved to effectively forbid women from owning land at all. Michael Waters, The Atlantic, 27 Oct. 2021 In the nascent American Republic, where some humans could vote and most others were in coverture to their voting husbands or were the property of those men, the notion of majority representation was corrupted a priori. Shannon Pufahl, The New York Review of Books, 21 Apr. 2020 Coverture also meant that a man had largely unrestrained access to his wife’s body. Elizabeth Weingarten, The Atlantic, 15 June 2017 The answer partially lies in the practices of coverture, embedded in the old law of domestic relations that American colonists inherited from the British and didn’t change after the Revolution. Elizabeth Weingarten, The Atlantic, 15 June 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'coverture.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of coverture was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near coverture

Cite this Entry

“Coverture.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Legal Definition


cov·​er·​ture ˈkə-vər-ˌchu̇r, -chər How to pronounce coverture (audio)
: the inclusion of a woman in the legal person of her husband upon marriage under common law

Note: Because of coverture, married women formerly did not have the legal capacity to hold their own property or contract on their own behalf. These disabilities have been removed for the most part by statute.


Anglo-French, literally, shelter, covering, from Old French, from covert, past participle of covrir to cover

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