follow Dictionary.com

How do you spell Hannukah?

droit du seigneur

[French drwa dy se-nyœr] /French drwa dü sɛˈnyœr/
noun
1.
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
1815-1825
1815-25; < French: literally, right of the lord
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
British Dictionary definitions for droit du seigneur

droit du seigneur

/French drwa dy sɛɲœr/
noun
1.
in feudal times, the right of a lord to have sexual intercourse with a vassal's bride on her wedding night
Word Origin
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for droit du seigneur
n.

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
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Article for droit du seigneur

(French: "right of the lord"), a feudal right said to have existed in medieval Europe giving the lord to whom it belonged the right to sleep the first night with the bride of any one of his vassals. The custom is paralleled in various primitive societies, but the evidence of its existence in Europe is all indirect, involving records of redemption dues paid by the vassal to avoid enforcement of some lordly rights. Many intellectual investigations have been devoted to the problem. A considerable number of feudal rights were related to the vassal's marriage, particularly the lord's right to select a bride for his vassal, but these were almost invariably redeemed by a money payment, or "avail"; and it seems likely that the droit du seigneur amounted, in effect, only to another tax of this sort.

Learn more about droit du seigneur with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for droit du seigneur

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for droit

6
6
Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for droit du seigneur