droit du seigneur

[ French drwa dy se-nyœr ]
/ French drwa dü sɛˈnyœr /


the supposed right claimable by a feudal lord to have sexual relations with the bride of a vassal on her first night of marriage.

Origin of droit du seigneur

1815–25; < French: literally, right of the lord
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for droit du seigneur

droit du seigneur

/ (French drwa dy sɛɲœr) /


in feudal times, the right of a lord to have sexual intercourse with a vassal's bride on her wedding night

Word Origin for droit du seigneur

from French, literally: the right of the lord
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 droit du seigneur

droit du seigneur


1784, alleged medieval custom whereby the feudal lord had the right to have sex with the bride of his vassal on their wedding night before she went to her husband, from French, literally "the lord's right." There is little evidence that it actually existed; it seems to have been invented in imagination 16c. or 17c. The Latin form was jus primae noctis, "law of the first night." For French droit, see right (adj.2).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper