dow·​ry | \ˈdau̇(-ə)-rē \
plural dowries

Definition of dowry 

1 archaic, law : dower sense 1

2 law : the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings to her husband in marriage cultures in which marriage rarely occurs without dowry or bride-price

3 : a gift of money or property by a man to or for his bride

4 : a natural talent

Examples of dowry in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Now, the platform has been used by people hoping to win big dowries by selling an underage girl. Makena Kelly, The Verge, "Facebook used to auction off a teenage girl for marriage in South Sudan," 20 Nov. 2018 Marriages are also sometimes seen as transactional events in a country where the traditional practice of paying dowries still exists. Todd Pitman, Fox News, "6 Years Gone: Myanmar woman escapes brutal China captivity," 6 Sep. 2018 Girls are just mouths to feed and, in some communities, require a dowry (though India has officially banned that practice, too). Mark Sappenfield, The Christian Science Monitor, "To improve the world, enlist girls, too," 15 Apr. 2018 The problem is not just specific customs, such as the payment of dowries or living with in-laws. The Economist, "India’s gender gap is closing in some respects, but remains vast," 15 Mar. 2018 On a recent Sunday afternoon, a younger cousin asked Maduk to help broker a dowry agreement between his family and his girlfriend’s family. Deirdre Fernandes,, "An education in hope," 7 July 2018 Brides come with huge gifts, dowries, that were once the only property that a woman could call her own. A.a. Gill, A-LIST, "Fraught, But It Counts," 4 July 2018 Because when you're married off, the [husbands] pay dowry. Jessica Andrews, Teen Vogue, "ASOS Made in Kenya Collection Is the Definition of Cultural Appreciation," 18 Apr. 2018 In 1695, as recorded in a pamphlet with the title of The Counterfeit Bridegroom, a lady of Southwark advertised a dowry of £200 for any eligible suitor for her daughter. Longreads, "The Roaring Girls of Queer London," 8 May 2018

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

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First Known Use of dowry

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dowry

Middle English dowarie, from Anglo-French, alteration of dower, douaire — more at dower

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Dictionary Entries near dowry

do/work wonders


do wrong





Statistics for dowry

Last Updated

30 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for dowry

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

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More Definitions for dowry



English Language Learners Definition of dowry

: money or property that a wife or wife's family gives to her husband when the wife and husband marry in some cultures


dow·​ry | \ˈdau̇-rē \
plural dowries

Kids Definition of dowry

: property that in some cultures a woman gives to her husband in marriage

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More from Merriam-Webster on dowry

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dowry

Spanish Central: Translation of dowry

Nglish: Translation of dowry for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on dowry

What made you want to look up dowry? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


living or existing for a long time

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