noun, plural dow·ries.

Also dower. the money, goods, or estate that a wife brings to her husband at marriage.
Archaic. a widow's dower.
a natural gift, endowment, talent, etc.

Also dowery.

Origin of dowry

1250–1300; Middle English dowerie < Anglo-French douarie < Medieval Latin dōtārium. See dot2, -ary Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dowry

Contemporary Examples of dowry

Historical Examples of dowry

  • Accept them for a dowry; and allow me to claim one privilege in return.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • The dowry left to me by my father was ample enough for the dowry of a nun.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • The bridegroom is nevertheless obliged to pay the dowry demanded.

  • To the husband, the wife tenders no dowry; but the husband, to the wife.

  • In 1836 he married Angele Sicardot, who brought him a dowry of ten thousand francs.

    A Zola Dictionary

    J. G. Patterson

British Dictionary definitions for dowry


noun plural -ries

the money or property brought by a woman to her husband at marriage
(esp formerly) a gift made by a man to his bride or her parents
Christianity a sum of money required on entering certain orders of nuns
a natural talent or gift
obsolete a widow's dower

Word Origin for dowry

C14: from Anglo-French douarie, from Medieval Latin dōtārium; see dower
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 dowry

early 14c., from Anglo-French dowarie, Old French doaire (late 13c.) "dower, dowry, gift," from Medieval Latin dotarium, from Latin dotare "to endow, portion," from dos (genitive dotis) "marriage portion," from PIE *do-ti (cf. Sanskrit dadati, Greek didonai, Old Church Slavonic dati, Lithuanian duoti, Armenian tam, all meaning "to give"), from root *do- "to give." Related to Latin donum "a giving, gift;" dare "to give" (see date (n.1)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

dowry in Culture


Money, property, or material goods that a bride's family gives to the bridegroom or his family at the time of the wedding. In many cultures, the dowry not only helps to cement the relationship between the bride's and groom's families but also serves to reinforce traditional family roles and gender roles.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.