Law. the portion of a deceased husband's real property allowed to his widow for her lifetime.
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 formsdow·er·less, adjectiveun·dow·ered, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dowerless

Historical Examples of dowerless

  • 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

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 (def. 1)
a natural gift or talent


(tr) to endow
Derived Formsdowerless, adjective

Word Origin for dower

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

Word Origin and History for dowerless



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper