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From French morganatique, from the Medieval Latin phrase matrimonium ad morganaticam, from Proto-Germanic *murganagebō (morning-gift) (whence Old English morgenġifu).



morganatic (comparative more morganatic, superlative most morganatic)

  1. Designating a marriage (or the wife involved) between a man of higher rank and a woman of lower rank, often having various legal repercussions (typically that such a wife has no claim on the husband's possessions or title). It was not an aspect of English law, but was common in other royal houses, especially in Germany.
    • 1922, James Joyce, Ulysses:
      we have this day repudiated our former spouse and have bestowed our royal hand upon the princess Selene, the splendour of the night. (The former morganatic spouse of Bloom is hastily removed in the Black Maria.)
    • 1942, Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, Canongate 2006, p. 346:
      Because of her noble birth, she bitterly resented her position as a morganatic wife.
    • 2002, Colin Jones, The Great Nation, Penguin 2003, p. 19:
      Louis's association with the pious widow, Madame de Maintenon (with whom he contracted a morganatic marriage in 1684) had led to a new tone of piety, even prudery, at court.
    • 2006, Marsha Keith Schuchard, Why Mrs Blake Cried, Pimlico 2007, p. 149:
      After her death, he arranged a morganatic marriage with Anna in 1757, which made him even more vulnerable to charges of sexual impropriety.