Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The now illegal act or practice of a Hindu widow's cremating herself on her husband's funeral pyre in order to fulfill her true role as wife.
  • n. A widow who commits such an act.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The custom and/or act of a Hindu woman giving herself up to be cremated on her husband’s funeral pyre as a sign of her devotion to her late spouse.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A Hindoo widow who immolates herself, or is immolated, on the funeral pile of her husband; -- so called because this act of self-immolation is regarded as envincing excellence of wifely character.
  • n. The act of burning a widow on the funeral pile of her husband.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A Hindu widow who immolates herself on the funeral pile, either with the body of her husband, or separately if he died at a distance.
  • n. The voluntary self-immolation of Hindu widows on the funeral pile of their husbands according to a Brahmanical rite.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the act of a Hindu widow willingly cremating herself on the funeral pyre of her dead husband

Etymologies

Sanskrit satī, virtuous woman, suttee, from feminine present participle of asti, s-, she is, is true.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Sanskrit सती (satī́, "good and virtuous or faithful wife"), from सत् (sát, "true, good, right etc."). In English usage since 1786. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Another gem from this Steyn book: In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of "suttee" - the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands.

    Random feeds from Syndic8.com

  • You might consider India and the outlawed 'suttee', where a widow would climb on the funeral pyre of her dead husband.

    On Thursday, the Legg report will be published along with...

  • They have been spoonfed lies and distortions about the British Empire, so that they bleat about how ashamed they are of it, forgetting that for all its faults it gave parliamentary democracy to the world (or tried to), and abolished excesses such as suttee and thuggee.

    On Thursday, the Legg report will be published along with...

  • I challenge you to study why "suttee" was outlawedby theState of Indiaafter 1900, and why some Hindus still practicesuttee secretly in India today.

    Christiane Amanpour's "God's Warriors"

  • The best known case of widow slaying is of course the custom of "suttee" in India.

    Taboo and Genetics A Study of the Biological, Sociological and Psychological Foundation of the Family

  • The British government forbade "suttee," as widow burning was called, and although we hear that it is still practiced occasionally in remote parts of the empire, such an act would be punished as murder if the police were to learn of it.

    Modern India

  • When one thinks of the atrocious crimes, upheld by religious sanctions, such as suttee and infanticide, which we have put down in the face of determined opposition and even threats of rebellion from the most honoured classes of the community, it is strange to be told that "before we went the people were religious, chaste, sober, compassionate towards the helpless, and patient under suffering," and that we have corrupted them.

    Life and Work in Benares and Kumaon, 1839-1877

  • So was suttee, the tradition in India of widows throwing themselves on their husbands' funeral pyres.

    Patricia Yarberry Allen: 'Desert Flower' A Must-See Film About a Must-Change Custom

  • The Macedonians heard tales that the Cathaean widows were encouraged rather forcefully to burn themselves alive on the funeral pyres of their husbands, a suttee ritual reportedly initiated after one local woman poisoned her husband.

    Alexander the Great

  • Fogg rescues Aouda, the young widow of one of the rajahs of Bundelcund, from death by suttee, at the "pagoda of Pillaji", which again seems to be fictional.

    Finding Kholby

Comments

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  • an innapropriate sort of romanization, in that it makes what ought never to sound...cute (like a diminutive item of furniture or perhaps a dessert)

    I had hoped it was just Naipaul being creative, but plenty of precedent for this form exists, as it turns out.

    November 25, 2009

  • "'We got ter clean up the battlefield.' Bombardier Fuller, known back home as 'Stop thief', is passing on the commands of our Major. Soon, carol-singing gunners are roaming muddy fields gathering fag ends, packets, bottles, dead mules, tins, and place them on a funeral pyre. As the flames roar up, a cry, 'Anyone for suttee?'"
    - Spike Milligan, 'Mussolini: My Part In His Downfall.'

    May 14, 2009