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[dou-er] /ˈdaʊ ər/
Law. the portion of a deceased husband's real property allowed to his widow for her lifetime.
dowry (def 1).
a natural gift or endowment.
verb (used with object)
to provide with a dower or dowry.
to give as a dower or dowry.
Origin of dower
1250-1300; Middle English dowere < Old French do(u)aire < Medieval Latin dōtārium. See dot2, -ary
Related forms
dowerless, adjective
undowered, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for dowerless
Historical Examples
  • You are doing all you can to oppose me, and you have determined to marry the dowerless daughter of a poor soldier.

    In The Palace Of The King F. Marion Crawford
  • His father's objection to Miss Baker was solely because of her dowerless condition.

  • The Florentine nobleman who is disposed to marry a dowerless American is yet to be heard from.

    A Transient Guest Edgar Saltus
  • The story in question is the famous one of the young man St. Nicholas and his gifts to the dowerless maidens.

    St. Nicholas George H. McKnight
  • My father was the younger son of one of our oldest earls; my mother the dowerless daughter of a Scotch peer.

    Pelham, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • There, aided by nuns, she cared for and educated two hundred and fifty pupils, dowerless daughters of impoverished nobles.

    Women of Modern France (Illustrated) Hugo Paul Thieme (1870-1940)
  • They took it for granted that he wished to marry her, dowerless as she was, and they kept out of his way.

    Corleone F. Marion Crawford
  • Tremenhere had married Minnie dowerless; but what a rich fortune she laid before him in the proofs of his mother's fame!

    Miles Tremenhere, Vol 2 of 2 Annette Marie Maillard
  • She is dowerless and friendless, except her young brother and an old grandfather, who maybe sleeps in his grave by this time.

    The Settlers William H. G. Kingston
  • Dolokhov was a suitable and in some respects a brilliant match for the dowerless, orphan girl.

    War and Peace Leo Tolstoy
British Dictionary definitions for dowerless


the life interest in a part of her husband's estate allotted to a widow by law
an archaic word for dowry (sense 1)
a natural gift or talent
(transitive) to endow
Derived Forms
dowerless, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Old French douaire, from Medieval Latin dōtārium, from Latin dōs gift
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for dowerless



late 13c., from Old French doaire "dower, dowry, gift" (see dowry).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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