Open main menu

Wiktionary β




From Latin lēvir (husband's brother, brother-in-law) (from Proto-Indo-European *dayh₂wḗr (one's brother-in-law)) + -ate


levirate (not comparable)

  1. Having to do with one's husband's brother.

Usage notesEdit



levirate (plural levirates)

  1. (countable) A marriage between a widow and her deceased husband's brother or, sometimes, heir.
  2. (anthropology) The institution of levirate marriage.
    • 1894, Edward Westermarck, The History of Human Marriage, second ed., Macmillan and Co., page 510,
      And it is, he says, impossible not to believe that the Levirate—that is, the practice of marrying a dead brother's widow—is derived from polyandry.
    • 1986, John S. Scullion, translator, Genesis 37-50: A Continental Commentary by Claus Westermann, Fortress Press, →ISBN, page 52,
      It is only a secondary purpose of the levirate that the property of the deceased passes on to the one who is heir to his name, and is probably a later accretion.
    • 2006, Gary P. Ferraro, Cultural Anthropology: An Applied Perspective, Thomson Wadsworth, →ISBN, page 219,
      The levirate is found in patrilineal societies in which the bride marries into her husband's family while essentially severing her ties with her original family.