hos·​tel | \ˈhä-stᵊl \

Definition of hostel 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : inn

2 : an inexpensive lodging facility for usually young travelers that typically has dormitory-style sleeping arrangements and sometimes offers meals and planned activities

called also youth hostel

3 chiefly British : a supervised institutional residence or shelter (as for homeless people)


hosteled or hostelled; hosteling or hostelling

Definition of hostel (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to stay at hostels overnight in the course of traveling

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Examples of hostel in a Sentence


in the old days, a traveler could spend the night at one of the hostels placed along the coach route

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The hostel is expected to start taking in travelers by the end of the year. Sarah Hauer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Be MKE: Where to eat fish fry, a hostel in Milwaukee and a crazy Miley Cyrus fan," 14 Feb. 2018 Gusman, 32, told TIME in early June, sitting outside a migrant hostel in a wheelchair provided by a local charity. Ioan Grillo/tenosique, Time, "‘There Is No Way We Can Turn Back.’ Why Thousands of Refugees Will Keep Coming to America Despite Trump’s Crackdown," 21 June 2018 That makes moving to find work harder for women than for men, for whom hostels are abundant. The Economist, "Culture and the labour market keep India’s women at home," 5 July 2018 But some are finding long-term residence in Capitol Hill hostels through Airbnb, according to The Washington Post. New York Times, "Washington Torn Over How to Grow Without ‘Breaking Up a Village’," 5 June 2018 The group tried feeding some of the men and putting them up in hostels, but as more and more came, Alternativa ran out of resources and could not support them all. Fox News, "60 Nigerians brought to Russia for World Cup ask for help," 13 July 2018 To counter the premium of 11th-hour airfare, Ms. Chen paid $11 a night for a serviceable, if bare-bones, hostel. Sarah Firshein, New York Times, "Honeymoons, Babymoons and Jobbymoons?," 8 June 2018 This is particularly true in the Nordic countries, which have some of Europe's finest hostels. Rick Steves, miamiherald, "Think you're too old for hostels? If you're alive, you're young enough to hostel | Miami Herald," 3 May 2018 The Exchange House is a community center for refugees and immigrants downstairs with an international hostel upstairs. Jennifer Conn, Akron Reporter,, "North Akron Exchange House throws first birthday bash, launches international market," 20 Feb. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

That’s when the first upscale hostels appeared, determinedly different from those hosteling clichés. Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "How Hostels Became Poshtels: The Remaking of a Backpacker's Hangout," 12 Sep. 2018 Of course, hosteling originated as a way for young backpackers to sleep safely and comfortably without the expense of a hotel. Rick Steves, miamiherald, "Think you're too old for hostels? If you're alive, you're young enough to hostel | Miami Herald," 3 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hostel.' 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 hostel


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hostel


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin hospitale hospice

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Statistics for hostel

Last Updated

2 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hostel

The first known use of hostel was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for hostel



English Language Learners Definition of hostel

: an inexpensive place for usually young travelers to stay overnight

: a shelter for homeless people


hos·​tel | \ˈhä-stᵊl \

Kids Definition of hostel

: a place providing inexpensive lodging usually for young travelers


hos·​tel | \ˈhäs-tᵊl \

Medical Definition of hostel 

chiefly British

: housing maintained by a public or private organization or institution especially : a rest home or rehabilitation center for the chronically ill, the aged, or the physically disabled

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More from Merriam-Webster on hostel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hostel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hostel

Spanish Central: Translation of hostel

Nglish: Translation of hostel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hostel for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about hostel

Comments on hostel

What made you want to look up hostel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a nest or breeding place

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