Definition of dowry in US English:



  • Property or money brought by a bride to her husband on their marriage.

    ‘Elizabeth's dowry was to be $45,000 in diamonds’
    • ‘When girls were going to get married their fathers had to give their future husband a dowry.’
    • ‘Add to these resources the landed endowments of widows, whether dowers or dowries, and it can be seen that Edward's control over marriage was of key importance for his patronage programme.’
    • ‘Despite the physical and spiritual barriers of the cloister, nuns used their dowries and other property interests to exercise fiscal influence and autonomy.’
    • ‘Furthermore, marriage contracts show that mothers contributed regularly to their daughters' dowries with amounts that were even superior to what they left to cadets by will.’
    • ‘In the past, marriages were arranged and women brought a dowry to the marriage.’
    • ‘Above all, perhaps, the chapters on notions of the appropriate age for marriage and on dowries are extremely impressive pieces of research and analysis.’
    • ‘If he had a son, he would try to make good his loss by claiming a hefty dowry in his marriage.’
    • ‘Olivia informs him that he cannot touch her dowry, that the money is for Joey and any other children they might have.’
    • ‘He had no doubt that his father must have allotted a large amount of money to her for her dowry.’
    • ‘It's a useful illustration of the conflicting views surrounding both dowries and forced marriages.’
    • ‘Even freed slaves carry the taint of their hereditary status, and their former masters or parents' masters may claim some or all of their income, property and dowries.’
    • ‘The bride was given a dowry of three thousand livres in ready money, a third of it reserved for the couple's communal use.’
    • ‘Middle-class families needed capital and credit, and marriage had considerable importance in bringing in funds through dowries and marriage settlements, and giving access to credit networks.’
    • ‘Arranged marriages in which parents negotiated spouses, dowries, and inheritance for their children were once common but have declined.’
    • ‘Brides are expected to bring substantial dowries with them and to defer to their husbands in most matters.’
    • ‘The Elector was broke and couldn't afford to pay the agreed dowry, but he wanted the money such a marriage would be sure to bring his way.’
    • ‘The bride brings a dowry to the marriage usually consisting of household goods and her own clothing.’
    • ‘Early transfers of property, large dowries, and a system of partible inheritance favored the entry of sons and sons-in-law into commercial ventures at an early age.’
    • ‘Additionally, the government does not recognize forced marriage or dowries paid to the mother's family to legitimize the marriage.’
    • ‘The amount of the dowry is determined through negotiations between the families of the engaged.’
    marriage settlement, portion, marriage portion
    View synonyms


Middle English (denoting a widow's life interest in her husband's estate): from Anglo-Norman French dowarie, from medieval Latin dotarium (see dower).