• WordNet 3.6
    • n levirate the biblical institution whereby a man must marry the widow of his childless brother in order to maintain the brother's line
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • a Levirate Of, pertaining to, or in accordance with, a law of the ancient Israelites and other tribes and races, according to which a woman, whose husband died without issue, was married to the husband's brother. "The firstborn son of a leviratical marriage was reckoned and registered as the son of the deceased brother."
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n levirate The institution of marriage between a man and the widow of his brother or nearest kinsman under certain circumstances. Among the ancient Hebrews such marriage was required in case the brother died childless, for the purpose of continuing his family, the firstborn son being the heir of the deceased husband. (Deut. xxv. 5–10; see also Mat. xxii. 24–26.) From the book of Ruth it appears that the obligation rested upon the nearest kinsman of the husband if there was no brother. It was counted disgraceful for a man to refuse to submit himself to it. A similar custom prevails in parts of India.
    • levirate Of or pertaining to the levirate: as, levirate marriage; levirate law.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Levirate lev′i-rāt marriage between a man and a childless brother's widow—an obligation amongst the ancient Hebrews
    • ***


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
L. levir, a husband's brother, brother-in-law; akin to Gr. dah`r: cf. F. lévirat, leviration
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
L. levir, a brother-in-law.


In literature:

He regards this rather unfortunately named custom of the levirate as having its root in group marriage.
"Kinship Organisations and Group Marriage in Australia" by Northcote W. Thomas
This story is chiefly of interest to us as it shows the continuation, even into the period of exile, of the Levirate marriage custom.
"Oriental Women" by Edward Bagby Pollard
This is certainly possible, although it rests on the hypothesis of the Levirate marriage.
"A Harmony of the Gospels for Students of the Life of Christ" by Archibald Thomas Robertson
The custom of the Levirate mentioned in Deut.
"Bible Studies" by Joseph M. Wheeler