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[mawr-guh-nat-ik] /ˌmɔr gəˈnæt ɪk/
of or relating to a form of marriage in which a person of high rank, as a member of the nobility, marries someone of lower station with the stipulation that neither the low-ranking spouse nor their children, if any, will have any claim to the titles or entailed property of the high-ranking partner.
Origin of morganatic
1720-30; < New Latin morganāticus (adj.), for Medieval Latin phrase (mātrimōnium) ad morganāticam (marriage) to the extent of morning-gift (morganātica representing Germanic *morgangeba (feminine); compare Old English morgengiefu gift from husband to wife on day after wedding)
Related forms
morganatically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for morganatic
Historical Examples
  • But it was a tough break for Frank—morganatic marriage and all that.

  • He had thought it a sacrifice to suggest a morganatic marriage.

    The Princess Virginia C. N. Williamson
  • You must have heard even in England of what is called a morganatic marriage?

    The Princess Virginia C. N. Williamson
  • The same may be said of a slave woman, or of a morganatic wife.


    William Graham Sumner
  • morganatic marriages for princes have continued down to our own time.


    William Graham Sumner
  • I am so glad they don't have morganatic marriages in England.

    Robert Orange John Oliver Hobbes
  • So she was a grand duchess, or at least the morganatic wife of a grand duke!

    The Place of Honeymoons Harold MacGrath
  • There is much misunderstanding in America as to these morganatic marriages.

    Face to Face with Kaiserism

    James W. Gerard
  • It is a study of morganatic marriage, and full of strong situations.

    The Angel of Pain E. F. Benson
  • In her heyday of beauty and fame she was the morganatic wife of the King of Belgium.

    Twenty Years in Europe Samuel H. M. Byers
British Dictionary definitions for morganatic


of or designating a marriage between a person of high rank and a person of low rank, by which the latter is not elevated to the higher rank and any issue have no rights to the succession of the higher party's titles, property, etc
Derived Forms
morganatically, adverb
Word Origin
C18: from the Medieval Latin phrase mātrimōnium ad morganāticum marriage based on the morning-gift (a token present after consummation representing the husband's only liability); morganātica, ultimately from Old High German morgan morning; compare Old English morgengiefu morning-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 morganatic

1727, from French morganatique (18c.), from Medieval Latin matrimonium ad morganaticam "marriage of the morning," probably from Old High German *morgangeba (Middle High German morgengabe) "morning gift," corresponding to Old English morgengifu (see morn + gift). In an unequal marriage between a man of royal blood and a common woman, this was a gift traditionally given to the wife on the morning after consummation, representing the only share she and her children may claim in the husband's estate. Also known as left-handed marriage, because the groom gives the bride his left hand instead of his right, but sometimes this latter term is used of a class of marriage (especially in Germany) where the spouse of inferior rank is not elevated, but the children inherit rights of succession. Related: Morganatically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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