dow·​ry ˈdau̇(-ə)-rē How to pronounce dowry (audio)
plural dowries
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
: 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
archaic, law : dower sense 1

Examples of dowry in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This was a family-centric ceremony and a dowry gifting, with almost 400 people in attendance, including childhood friends, Johnny’s fraternity brothers, and Yolande’s best friends and suitemates from college. Alexandra MacOn, Vogue, 27 July 2023 Vaccarella transferred their images onto dowry linens that her mother had collected over the years to create evocative, confounding paintings. Julia Halperin, Robb Report, 15 July 2023 Traditionally, such handwoven cloth would be part of a woman’s dowry. Hannah Beech, New York Times, 30 June 2023 Nobody, in the Western democracies at least, pays a dowry. Time, 28 June 2023 In Akalgarh, a village in the northern Indian state of Punjab, Jagdeep Kaur’s family cobbled together a hefty $8,500—almost four times the average annual salary in India—for a dowry to wed Sukhminder Singh. Time, 28 June 2023 Set on Iran’s northern Caspian Sea coast, the film follows Amir (Hamid Reza Abbasi), a young man who, desperate to marry his girlfriend Narges (Sadif Asgari), seeks work at a local fishery with the hope of earning enough money for an appropriate dowry and winning over her upper-class parents. Ed Meza, Variety, 28 June 2023 Others, however, have been subjected to outright deceit, their families defrauded of dowries, honeymoon expenses and visa payments. Sameer Yasir, New York Times, 13 June 2023 But historical records suggest he and his mother were enslaved by the Custis estate and inherited by Jacky’s son-in-law Thomas Law, likely as part of his wife Eliza’s dowry. Cassandra Good, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 June 2023 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

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

Dictionary Entries Near dowry

Cite this Entry

“Dowry.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


dow·​ry ˈdau̇(ə)r-ē How to pronounce dowry (audio)
plural dowries
: the property that a woman brings to her husband in marriage in some cultures
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