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(dou`rē), the property that a woman brings to her husband at the time of the marriage. The dowry apparently originated in the giving of a marriage gift by the family of the bridegroom to the bride and the bestowal of money upon the bride by her parents. It has been a well-established institution among the propertied classes of various lands and times, e.g., in ancient Greece and Rome, India, medieval Europe, and modern continental countries. Generally the husband has been compelled to return the dowry in case of divorce or the death of the wife when still childless. One purpose of the dowry was to provide support for the wife on the husband's death, and thus it was related remotely to the rights of dowerdower,
that portion of a deceased husband's real property that a widow is legally entitled to use during her lifetime to support herself and their children. A wife may claim the dower if her husband dies without a will or if she dissents from the will.
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. In civil-law countries the dowry is an important form of property. In England and the United States (except for Louisiana), the dowry system is not recognized as law.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



property—in the form of money, objects, real estate, or other assets—allotted to a bride by her parents or relatives upon her marriage. The custom arose during the period of the decline of the clan system, when monogamous marriage emerged. The dowry was originally an allotment from the common property of the clan, and it continued to be considered the property of the clan after a woman’s marriage. When a woman died childless, her dowry reverted to her clan. As the patriarchal social order became stronger, the dowry first represented the joint property of the married couple but later was usually the sole property of the husband.

The dowry survives and plays an important role in bourgeois marriage. In most capitalist countries, legislation gives the husband the right of sole control over the family’s property, including the wife’s dowry. The dowry has lost its significance in the USSR. It is retained among an insignificant portion of the population, chiefly rural, and is not subject to legal regulation.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Christianity a sum of money required on entering certain orders of nuns
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
"We receive orders for school uniforms, brides' dowry and yurt items.
"Since the marriage, my husband and his family used to torture me over dowry. Wais used to make obscene videos and threaten me.
He noted that all means tried by the defendant to settle with his wife proved abortive, adding that they are ready to accept the dowry and give her what she wants.
class="font-size--16 MsoNormalA former great friend of Wambui's late dad Kiago Kamiru, Kungu, had coincidentally accompanied Mr Kamiru during the dowry payment of Wambui's mum, Prof Njeri Wamae.
Moreover, the act of giving dowry should also be a crime so that people stop giving in to this pressure.
'The suspect was angry with her family, who asked for a high dowry and they could not reach an agreement.
What people don't realize is that dowry is not limited to one class or economic background.
Dowry is a social evil which affected our society very badly.
She said that special work on elimination of dowry was in process by the Ministry as it was a social curse encouraging many other evils and making poor parents' life miserable.
Actress Ayesha Omar called on her followers to take a stand against the practice as real men don't ask for dowry".
#Stopjahezkhori is a trend initiated by UN Women Pakistan against the concept of dowry.
In the past, up to Dh150,000 would be required as dowry. After the dowry law was enforced, such practices have reduced considerably.