dow·​ry | \ ˈdau̇(-ə)-rē How to pronounce dowry (audio) \
plural dowries

Definition of dowry

1 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
2 : a natural talent or gift Beauty should be the dowry of every man and woman, as invariably as sensation; but it is rare.— Ralph Waldo Emerson
3 archaic, law : dower sense 1

Examples of dowry in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web His wife, Winifred, from a Sheffield steel family, had come with a considerable dowry. Joan Acocella, The New Yorker, 17 May 2021 That meant being more than a mother and a wife, more than a woman for whom a suitable dowry was a cow of three years. Longreads, 6 Apr. 2021 Her large dowry could then be invested in his sulfur mine. Tim Parks, The New York Review of Books, 23 Feb. 2021 In the past, there was a tradition of including a chess set with a bride’s dowry. Inna Lazareva, Washington Post, 13 Dec. 2020 In 1920, spending a good chunk of his bride Sara Aaronson Mankiewicz’s $2,500 dowry on a luxe cabin, the newlyweds crossed the Atlantic and ended up in Berlin. Michael Phillips,, 11 Nov. 2020 In other cases, families in source states arrange such long-distance and dowry-free marriages for at least one daughter, so that their other children are able to marry in the same state or region. Sreya Banerjea, Quartz India, 3 Oct. 2020 India has long struggled with pervasive gender inequality and a preference for sons over daughters, which are often viewed as economic burdens -- reinforced by cultural practices like requiring a bride to provide a dowry. Jessie Yeung, CNN, 22 Sep. 2020 In Nigeria, the husband’s family pays the bride price, but Kavita has come from India with her own dowry. Barbara Vandenburgh, USA TODAY, 4 Aug. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of dowry

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for dowry

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dowry

Time Traveler for dowry

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for dowry

Last Updated

26 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dowry.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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 How to pronounce dowry (audio) \
plural dowries

Kids Definition of dowry

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Dog Breeds

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!