[lev-er-it, -uh-reyt, lee-ver-it, -vuh-reyt]


the custom of marriage by a man with his brother's widow, such marriage required in Biblical law if the deceased was childless. Deut. 25:5–10.

Origin of levirate

1715–25; < Latin lēvir husband's brother (akin to Greek dāḗr, Sanskrit devar, Old English tācor) + -ate3
Related formslev·i·rat·ic [lev-uh-rat-ik, lee-vuh-] /ˌlɛv əˈræt ɪk, ˌli və-/, lev·i·rat·i·cal, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for levirate

Historical Examples of levirate

British Dictionary definitions for levirate



the practice, required by Old Testament law, of marrying the widow of one's brother
Derived Formsleviratic (ˌlɛvɪˈrætɪk) or leviratical, adjective

Word Origin for levirate

C18: from Latin lēvir a husband's brother
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 levirate

custom by which the male next-of-kin of a dead man was bound to marry his widow, 1725, from Latin levir "brother-in-law" (from PIE *daiwer- "husband's brother") + -ate (2).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper