Dowry refers to a gift or payment by a bride's family to the groom or his family at the time of marriage. As an archaic usage, dowry can also refer to dower, the goods a woman brings to a marriage and retains some power over.
Less commonly, dowry refers to a gift or payment or property given by a man to or for his bride.
In South Asia today, "dowry deaths" are sometimes a problem: a dowry, paid on marriage, is returnable if the marriage ends. If the husband is unable to repay the dowry, the death of the bride is the only way to end the obligation.