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[dou-er] /ˈdaʊ ər/
Law. the portion of a deceased husband's real property allowed to his widow for her lifetime.
dowry (def 1).
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 forms
dowerless, adjective
undowered, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for dower
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The Gauls were there among the brushwood, hard on the fortress, secure in the darkness and the dower of shadowy night.

  • As to any provision for her, it must have taken the form of a settlement, a jointure, or a dower.

    Shakespeare's Family Mrs. C. C. Stopes
  • The regulations of the Roman law as to dower are fully accepted, but the dower itself is restricted to a small amount.

  • Really, they needed no dower with their good looks, for they were all pretty.

    The Girl from Sunset Ranch Amy Bell Marlowe
  • He can do the same with his separate property but subject to her dower.

  • I tell you it is fitting; you shall have a dower as ample as that of any lady in the land.

    Rookwood William Harrison Ainsworth
  • She must have six witnesses, male or female, to prove her dower.

  • He would fall in love, not with the demoiselle, but the dower.

    Night and Morning, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • No bride of the old country has more pride in her dower chest than the mountain bride in her pile of quilts.

    Quilts Marie D. Webster
British Dictionary definitions for dower


the life interest in a part of her husband's estate allotted to a widow by law
an archaic word for dowry (sense 1)
a natural gift or talent
(transitive) to endow
Derived Forms
dowerless, adjective
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for dower

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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