dow·​er | \ ˈdau̇(-ə)r How to pronounce dower (audio) \

Definition of dower

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the part of or interest in the real estate of a deceased spouse given by law to the surviving spouse during the surviving spouse's life — compare curtesy


dowered; dowering; dowers

Definition of dower (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to supply with a dower or dowry : endow

Examples of dower in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Many of his own slaves have married the dower slaves, and those marriages will be broken up. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, 13 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dower.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of dower


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1605, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for dower


Middle English dowere, from Anglo-French dower, douaire, from Medieval Latin dotarium, from Latin dot-, dos gift, marriage portion — more at date

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Time Traveler for dower

Time Traveler

The first known use of dower was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near dower

dowel screw


dower chest

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Cite this Entry

“Dower.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for dower


dow·​er | \ ˈdau̇-ər How to pronounce dower (audio) \

Legal Definition of dower

: the life estate in a man's real property to which his wife is entitled upon his death under common law and some state statutes — compare curtesy, elective share

History and Etymology for dower

Anglo-French, from Old French douaire, modification of Medieval Latin dotarium, from Latin dot-, dos gift, dowry

More from Merriam-Webster on dower

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dower

Britannica English: Translation of dower for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about dower


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