le·​vi·​rate ˈle-və-rət How to pronounce levirate (audio) ˈlē- How to pronounce levirate (audio)
: the sometimes compulsory marriage of a widow to a brother of her deceased husband
leviratic adjective

Word History


Latin levir husband's brother; akin to Old English tācor husband's brother, Greek daēr

First Known Use

1725, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of levirate was in 1725

Dictionary Entries Near levirate

Cite this Entry

“Levirate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/levirate. Accessed 17 Jun. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on levirate

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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