levirate

leviratic /lev'euh rat"ik, lee'veuh-/, leviratical, adj.
/lev"euhr it, -euh rayt', lee"veuhr it, -veuh rayt'/, n.
the custom of marriage by a man with his brother's widow, such marriage required in Biblical law if the deceased was childless. Deut. 25:5-10.
[1715-25; < L levir husband's brother (akin to Gk daér, Skt devar, OE tacor) + -ATE3]

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      custom or law decreeing that a widow should, or in rare cases must, marry her dead husband's brother. The term comes from the Latin levir, meaning “husband's brother.” The “brother” may be a biological sibling of the deceased or a person who is socially classified as such. Where the brother is required to be younger than the deceased, the custom is called the junior levirate. The levirate often co-occurs with the sororate, a practice in which a widower should or must marry his dead wife's sister.

      Often, the brother who marries his former sister-in-law is a proxy for the deceased, in which case all progeny of the new marriage are socially acknowledged as the children of the dead man. For instance, in ancient Hebrew society, the levirate served to perpetuate the line of a man who died without offspring. Likewise, among the Nuer people of The Sudan, the children of a remarried widow belong to the first husband's line, and they consider the deceased to be their father even if the new husband is their biological genitor.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Levirate — Lev i*rate (l[e^]v [i^]*r[asl]t), Leviratical Lev i*rat ic*al ( r[a^]t [i^]*kal), a. [L. levir a husband s brother, brother in law; akin to Gr. dah r: cf. F. l[ e]virat leviration.] Of, pertaining to, or in accordance with, a law of the ancient… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • levirate — (n.) custom by which the male next of kin of a dead man was bound to marry his widow, 1725, from L. levir brother in law (from PIE *daiwer husband s brother ) + ATE (Cf. ate) (2) …   Etymology dictionary

  • levirate — [lev′ə rit, lev′ərāt΄; lē′vərit, lē′vərāt΄] n. [L levir, husband s brother, brother in law (< * daiwer < IE * dāiwēr > Sans dēvár, Gr daēr, OE tacor) + ATE2] a custom of the Jews in Biblical times by which a dead man s brother was… …   English World dictionary

  • levirate — 1. adjective Having to do with ones husbands brother. 2. noun a) A marriage between a widow and her deceased husbands brother or, sometimes, heir. And it is, he says, impossible not to believe that the Levirate that is, the practice of marrying a …   Wiktionary

  • levirate — [ li:vɪrət, lɛv ] noun (usu. the levirate) a custom of the ancient Hebrews and some other peoples by which a man may be obliged to marry his brother s widow. Origin C18: from L. levir brother in law + ate1 …   English new terms dictionary

  • levirate — noun Etymology: Latin levir husband s brother; akin to Old English tācor husband s brother, Greek daēr Date: 1725 the sometimes compulsory marriage of a widow to a brother of her deceased husband • leviratic adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • levirate — n. custom which required that a man marry his brother s widow if the deceased died childless (Biblical) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • levirate — levi·rate …   English syllables

  • levirate — lev•i•rate [[t]ˈlɛv ər ɪt, əˌreɪt, ˈli vər ɪt, vəˌreɪt[/t]] n. jud Judaism. the custom of marriage between a man and his brother s widow, required in Biblical law under certain circumstances. Deut. 25:5–10 • Etymology: 1715–25; < L lēvir… …   From formal English to slang

  • levirate — The marriage of a woman to her husbands brother …   Grandiloquent dictionary

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