fa·ve·la | \ fə-ˈve-lə \
variants: or less commonly favella

Definition of favela 

: a settlement of jerry-built shacks lying on the outskirts of a Brazilian city

Examples of favela in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Armed forces have been sent to Rio at least nine times since 1992, generally occupying key favelas (poor neighborhoods) and thoroughfares during international events or elections. Benjamin Lessing, Washington Post, "Brazil’s federal intervention in Rio’s drug wars has an authoritarian feel — and could backfire," 2 Mar. 2018 Jesus grew up in a Sao Paulo favela, and joined Palmeiras’ youth program as a pre-teen. Michelle Kaufman, miamiherald, "Which of these 10 young players will become World Cup stars? | Miami Herald," 25 May 2018 Chronic housing shortages have left every major city dotted with makeshift settlements known as favelas. Paul Kiernan, WSJ, "These Developing Countries Are Getting Old Before They Get Rich, With Dire Consequences," 1 Apr. 2018 Dado Galdieri—Bloomberg/Getty Images Franco, a popular local LGBTQ and human rights activist, grew up in one of Rio’s largest favelas, and rose to political prominence by denouncing economic inequality and police brutality. Eli Meixler, Time, "The Violent Death of a Progressive Rio Politician Has Prompted Mass Mourning and Protests in Brazil," 16 Mar. 2018 Fears of police excesses were heightened when soldiers were seen searching the backpacks of young school children and taking photos and gathering information of residents of some favelas. Washington Post, "Military takeover in Rio sparks fears of police brutality," 28 Feb. 2018 Your business-intelligence analyst title won’t sound as interesting at EDM festivals compared with your friend’s project to raise $10,000 and clean up a few tenements in a Rio de Janeiro favela. Andy Kessler, WSJ, "Advice to New Grads: Scale or Bail," 20 May 2018 She was known for social work in poor and marginalized shantytowns, or favelas, and for her outspokenness against police violence. Fox News, "Rio police recreate murder scene of black councilwoman," 10 May 2018 One week later, eight young men were killed by police in Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro’s largest favela. Kiratiana Freelon, The Root, "‘Genocide of Black People’: The Killing of Afro-Brazilians by Police Is an Injustice Marielle Franco Was Fighting to End," 26 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'favela.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of favela

1946, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for favela

Brazilian Portuguese favela, perhaps from Favela, hill outside Rio de Janeiro

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Dictionary Entries near favela


fava bean






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Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

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The first known use of favela was in 1946

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