noun, plural dowries.
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.

1250–1300; Middle English dowerie < Anglo-French douarie < Medieval Latin dōtārium. See dot2, -ary Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
dowry (ˈdaʊərɪ)
n , pl -ries
1.  the money or property brought by a woman to her husband at marriage
2.  (esp formerly) a gift made by a man to his bride or her parents
3.  Christianity a sum of money required on entering certain orders of nuns
4.  a natural talent or gift
5.  obsolete a widow's dower
[C14: from Anglo-French douarie, from Medieval Latin dōtārium; see dower]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

early 14c., from Anglo-Fr. dowarie, from O.Fr. douaire, from M.L. dotarium, from L. dos (gen. dotis) "marriage portion," from PIE *do-ti (cf. Skt. dadati, Gk. didonai, O.C.S. dati, Lith. duoti, Arm. tam, all meaning "to give"), from base *do- "to give." Related to L. donum "a giving, gift;" dare "to
give" (see date (1)).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

dowry definition

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 American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Bible Dictionary

Dowry definition

(mohar; i.e., price paid for a wife, Gen. 34:12; Ex. 22:17; 1 Sam. 18:25), a nuptial present; some gift, as a sum of money, which the bridegroom offers to the father of his bride as a satisfaction before he can receive her. Jacob had no dowry to give for his wife, but he gave his services (Gen. 29:18; 30:20; 34:12).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
She says that three goats will be an acceptable dowry, which isn't that bad.
Cows are a typical bridal dowry in the Maasai culture.
Equipped with a few supplies, a small dowry and a rather ugly ring left by her
  mysterious father, she sets out.
No discussion thus far of a dowry.
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