fa·​ve·​la fə-ˈve-lə How to pronounce favela (audio)
variants or less commonly favella
: a settlement of jerry-built shacks lying on the outskirts of a Brazilian city

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web In a flimsy wooden structure in a small favela on the outer edges of São Paulo, a kitchen, bed, and television occupy the same room. Vasco Cotovio, CNN, 28 Oct. 2022 Gang leaders in Manguinhos also paved over some of the lettuce to create more space for the favela’s popular outdoor funk parties, known as Baile Funk, Mr. Barros said. Samantha Pearson, WSJ, 12 Sep. 2022 Silva was one of the first to settle in the favela known as the Nova Vitoria Esperança community six years ago. Vasco Cotovio, CNN, 28 Oct. 2022 But many of the favela’s residents couldn’t care less if the vegetables are organic or particularly nutritious. Samantha Pearson, WSJ, 12 Sep. 2022 In May, a police raid on another Rio favela killed 23 people, and last year, a shootout in a third slum left at least 29 people dead. Marina Lopes, Washington Post, 22 July 2022 Farther afield, Werllayne Nunes realistically paints an exuberant girl in front of a Brazilian favela transformed from slum to wonderland by the insertion of fanciful gold-leaf domes. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 24 June 2022 Elza Gomes da Conceição was born in a Rio favela, or slum, known as Moça Bonita on June 23, 1930. Washington Post, 25 Jan. 2022 Most of the favela and low-income population in Brazil depend entirely on the SUS for health care, and many middle-class citizens use SUS for routine vaccinations and emergency care. Claudio Araujo, Scientific American, 18 May 2022 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1946, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of favela was in 1946

Dictionary Entries Near favela

Cite this Entry

“Favela.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/favela. Accessed 28 Jan. 2023.

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