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The practice of marrying into an equal or more prestigious social group or caste.


1. (Anthropology & Ethnology) a custom that forbids a woman to marry a man of lower social status
2. (Anthropology & Ethnology) any marriage with a partner of higher social status
[C19: from hyper- + -gamy]
ˌhyperˈgamous adj


(haɪˈpɜr gə mi)

marriage to a person of a social status higher than one's own; orig., esp. in India, the custom of allowing a woman to marry only into her own or a higher social group.
hy•per′ga•mous, adj.
References in periodicals archive ?
Hypergamy is the practice of seeking a spouse of higher socioeconomic status than oneself.
Traditionally in heterosexual couples, the dominating pattern existing was the educational hypergamy of the woman, a type of relationship in which the woman marries a man with a higher educational attainment and in which there are important gender differences.
Moreover in traditional societies, the marriage of a female is associated with dowry payment, especially where practice of hypergamy exists, to raise their daughter's marital position, whereas their inability to arrange proper marital linkages often imply loss of honour for the natal family and added social pressure [Caldwell and Caldwell (2005)].
Custom, in conjunction with hypergamy, reduces the number of eligible candidates for daughters who, even today, are sometimes married shortly after puberty, in order to preserve their purity.
The structural set-up in Cameroon (capitalist structure) has also produced a class divergence between the few middle class women who have attained their status either through education or hypergamy and are more concerned with protecting their class interests, much to the detriment of their fellow women at the "bottom of the heap".