Meaning of Dowry

The Latin word DOTARE is the root of the word ‘dowry’, and it means “to endow or to portion out” and it is commonly known as ‘dahej’ in Hindi.

According to Webster’s New Dictionary (Webster’s new 20th cent. dictionary (1956)), dowry means:

1. The money, goods or estate which a woman brings to her husband in marriage; a bride’s portion of her marriage;
2. A natural talent, gift or endowment: as ‘poetry was her dowry’; and
3. A gift of money or property by a man to or for his bride.

The meaning of the term “dowry” as per Warton’s Law Lexicon is:
Dowry or dote (dos nulieris) otherwise called maritagium or marriage goods [are] that which the wife brings to the husband in marriage.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, dowry is a property which a woman brings to her husband.
Definition of Dowry under the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961- In this Act, “dowry” means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly—
(a) by one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage; or
(b) by the parent of either party to a marriage or by any other person, to either party to the marriage or to any other person, at or before [or any time after the marriage]
(c) [in connection with the marriage of the said parties, but does not include] dower or mahr in the case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies.


Explanation II. — The expression “valuable security” has the same meaning as in section 30 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) *.
*IPC, 1860: The words "valuable security" denotes a document which is, or purports to be, a document whereby any legal right is created, extended, transferred, restricted, extinguished or released, or whereby any person acknowledges that the lies under legal liability, or has not a certain legal right.


A writes his name on the back of a bill of exchange. As the effect of this endorsement is transferring the right to the bill to any person who may become the lawful holder of it, the endorsement is a "valuable security". 

The Committee on the Status of Women ( Part-1.pdf) define dowry as – 

What is given to the bride, and often settled before hand and announced openly or discreetly. The gift though given to the bride may not be regarded exclusively her property.

What is given to the bridegroom before and at the time of marriage

· What is presented to the in-laws of the girl

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