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(broadly) any of the diverse forms of interpersonal union established in various parts of the world to form a familial bond that is recognized legally, religiously, or socially, granting the participating partners mutual conjugal rights and responsibilities and including, for example, opposite-sex marriage, same-sex marriage, plural marriage, and arranged marriage:
Anthropologists say that some type of marriage has been found in every known human society since ancient times.
See Word Story at the current entry.

Also called opposite-sex marriage. the form of this institution under which a man and a woman have established their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc.
See also (def 2).
this institution expanded to include two partners of the same gender, as in same-sex marriage; gay marriage.

the state, condition, or relationship of being married; wedlock:
They have a happy marriage.
Synonyms: matrimony.
Antonyms: single life, bachelorhood, spinsterhood, singleness.
the legal or religious ceremony that formalizes the decision of two people to live as a married couple, including the accompanying social festivities:
to officiate at a marriage.
Synonyms: nuptials, marriage ceremony, wedding.
Antonyms: divorce, annulment.
a relationship in which two people have pledged themselves to each other in the manner of a husband and wife, without legal sanction:
trial marriage.
any close or intimate association or union:
the marriage of words and music in a hit song.
Synonyms: blend, merger, unity, oneness; alliance, confederation.
Antonyms: separation, division, disunion, schism.
a formal agreement between two companies or enterprises to combine operations, resources, etc., for mutual benefit; merger.
a blending or matching of different elements or components:
The new lipstick is a beautiful marriage of fragrance and texture.
Cards. a meld of the king and queen of a suit, as in pinochle.
Compare .
a piece of antique furniture assembled from components of two or more authentic pieces.
Obsolete. the formal declaration or contract by which act a man and a woman join in wedlock.
Contemporary Examples

We even had our wedding rings engraved with the date of our marriage and the words “making history.”
David Jefferson on His Four Gay Marriages and a Legal Victory Against Prop 8 David Jefferson February 6, 2012

This perpetuates the cycle of poverty that led to their marriage in the first place.
The Sad Hidden Plight of Child Grooms Nina Strochlic September 17, 2014

Puzzled at the time, Diana later realised Camilla was working out how she could go on meeting Charles after the marriage.
Juiciest Bits From Robert Lacey’s Royal Biography ‘The Queen’ Tom Sykes May 8, 2012

Which is unlikely to answer the most burning question the voting public has about their “old school” marriage.
Gloria Cain: Sex Accusations Make No Sense in ‘Old School’ Marriage Michelle Cottle November 14, 2011

My last act as board president of marriage Equality USA will be on Sunday, marching in the pride parade.
Edie Windsor on Love, and More Scenes From a Gay Marriage Steven Thrasher June 25, 2013

Historical Examples

It is also told that, though many sought her in marriage, she wedded none.
Eric Brighteyes H. Rider Haggard

I have sought thy daughter in marriage for Xerxes, prince of the empire.
Philothea Lydia Maria Child

And you dare to tell me that you’ll consent to Charles’s marriage with her?
The Evil Eye; Or, The Black Spector William Carleton

He had disapproved of the marriage of his son and evinced his displeasure in his will.
The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson

Let his marriage go on, as though there were no such person as John Gordon.
An Old Man’s Love Anthony Trollope

the state or relationship of living together in a legal partnership

the legal union or contract made by two people to live together
(as modifier): marriage licence, marriage certificate

the religious or legal ceremony formalizing this union; wedding
a close or intimate union, relationship, etc: a marriage of ideas
(in certain card games, such as bezique, pinochle) the king and queen of the same suit

c.1300, “action of marrying, entry into wedlock;” also “state or condition of being husband and wife, matrimony, wedlock;” from Old French mariage “marriage; dowry” (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *maritaticum (11c.), from Latin maritatus, past participle of maritatre “to wed, marry, give in marriage” (see marry (v.)). The Vulgar Latin word also is the source of Italian maritaggio, Spanish maridaje.

Meaning “a union of a man and woman for life by marriage, a particular matrimonial union” is early 14c. Meanings “the marriage vow, formal declaration or contract by which two join in wedlock;” also “a wedding, celebration of a marriage; the marriage ceremony” are from late 14c. Figurative use (non-theological) “intimate union, a joining as if by marriage” is from early 15c.

[W]hen two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition until death do them part. [G.B. Shaw, preface to “Getting Married,” 1908]

Marriage counseling recorded by 1939. Marriage bed, figurative of marital intercourse generally, is attested from 1580s (bed of marriage is from early 15c.).

Related Terms

shotgun wedding

was instituted in Paradise when man was in innocence (Gen. 2:18-24). Here we have its original charter, which was confirmed by our Lord, as the basis on which all regulations are to be framed (Matt. 19:4, 5). It is evident that monogamy was the original law of marriage (Matt. 19:5; 1 Cor. 6:16). This law was violated in after times, when corrupt usages began to be introduced (Gen. 4:19; 6:2). We meet with the prevalence of polygamy and concubinage in the patriarchal age (Gen. 16:1-4; 22:21-24; 28:8, 9; 29:23-30, etc.). Polygamy was acknowledged in the Mosaic law and made the basis of legislation, and continued to be practised all down through the period of Jewish histroy to the Captivity, after which there is no instance of it on record. It seems to have been the practice from the beginning for fathers to select wives for their sons (Gen. 24:3; 38:6). Sometimes also proposals were initiated by the father of the maiden (Ex. 2:21). The brothers of the maiden were also sometimes consulted (Gen. 24:51; 34:11), but her own consent was not required. The young man was bound to give a price to the father of the maiden (31:15; 34:12; Ex. 22:16, 17; 1 Sam. 18:23, 25; Ruth 4:10; Hos. 3:2) On these patriarchal customs the Mosaic law made no change. In the pre-Mosaic times, when the proposals were accepted and the marriage price given, the bridegroom could come at once and take away his bride to his own house (Gen. 24:63-67). But in general the marriage was celebrated by a feast in the house of the bride’s parents, to which all friends were invited (29:22, 27); and on the day of the marriage the bride, concealed under a thick veil, was conducted to her future husband’s home. Our Lord corrected many false notions then existing on the subject of marriage (Matt. 22:23-30), and placed it as a divine institution on the highest grounds. The apostles state clearly and enforce the nuptial duties of husband and wife (Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18, 19; 1 Pet. 3:1-7). Marriage is said to be “honourable” (Heb. 13:4), and the prohibition of it is noted as one of the marks of degenerate times (1 Tim. 4:3). The marriage relation is used to represent the union between God and his people (Isa. 54:5; Jer. 3:1-14; Hos. 2:9, 20). In the New Testament the same figure is employed in representing the love of Christ to his saints (Eph. 5:25-27). The Church of the redeemed is the “Bride, the Lamb’s wife” (Rev. 19:7-9).


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  • Arrangements

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