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 Isabella was able to fund a mercenary army with the aid of Philippa’s substantial dowry. Anne Thériault, Longreads, 21 June 2022 When his father lost his money and her dowry in 1903, her condition worsened. Tim Parks, The New York Review of Books, 23 Feb. 2021 In many parts of rural Afghanistan and among the country’s poorest, girls are often married off at puberty, sometimes earlier, and their families receive a dowry. Jamey Keaten,, 31 Mar. 2022 It’s a resolve that perhaps comes too late in a prickly period of negotiation between two mutually wary households, as matters of dowry, obligation and family honor are all considered ahead of the happiness of the two children in question. Guy Lodge, Variety, 21 Nov. 2021 When the couple married, Kumar accepted a dowry of 720 grams of gold, a Suzuki sedan and 500,000 rupees (about $6,700) in cash. Rhea Mogul And Esha Mitra, CNN, 20 Nov. 2021 The opposite was true of Zaza, who had a vast dowry. Lara Feigel, The New Republic, 26 Nov. 2021 The event marks the end of a long and tumultuous road to the altar that will now see Mako forgo her status as a royal, reject her $1.4 million dowry, and likely move to New York to begin a new life as a normal citizen. Liam Hess, Vogue, 26 Oct. 2021 Then a dispute over land — which was to go to de Carrouges as part of a dowry after wedding a noble’s daughter, Marguerite de Thibouville (Killing Eve‘s Jodie Comer) — and some political shenanigans caused a rift in their friendship. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 13 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

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

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

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Last Updated

1 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Dowry.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for dowry


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


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