hov·​el | \ˈhə-vəl, ˈhä- \

Definition of hovel 

1 : an open shed or shelter

2 religion : tabernacle

3 : a small, wretched, and often dirty house : hut

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Synonyms for hovel


cabin, camp, hooch (or hootch) [slang], hut, hutch, hutment, shack, shanty

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Examples of hovel in a Sentence

refugees living in crowded hovels

Recent Examples on the Web

Additionally, the nocturnal insects tended to return to consistent hovels to rest and relax during the day. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "How Tiny Trackers Could Help Humans Avoid Kissing Bugs’ Deadly Smooch," 9 July 2018 The play opens in a one-room hovel in a rebel army camp in Liberia. Theodore P. Mahne, NOLA.com, "Southern Rep's 'Eclipsed' shows women's defiant spirit in face of dehumanizing war and oppression," 23 Apr. 2018 The idea of using house size as a proxy for economic status may not be revolutionary—a palace is bigger than a hovel, after all—but the researchers found a new way to gauge the economy of ancient settlements from structural measurements. Matthew Shaer, Smithsonian, "The Archaeology of Wealth Inequality," 22 Feb. 2018 Episode 1: Frodo and Sam are sitting in their cold, dark underground hovel rubbing their hands over a small fire complaining about the lack of hobbit females to keep them company. Michael Heaton, cleveland.com, "Winter gold never gets old: Minister of Culture," 14 Feb. 2018 When the drill bit broke off yet again, Steen gathered his few samples and dejectedly started the 100-mile drive back to Cisco, Utah, where M.L. and the kids were set up in a tar-paper hovel renting for $15 a month. Aaron Robinson, Car and Driver, "2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Crew Cab Diesel," 27 July 2017 The ghastliest hovels, like Ruby’s house, often yield the highest returns. Jennifer Senior, New York Times, "Review: In ‘Evicted,’ Home Is an Elusive Goal for America’s Poor," 21 Feb. 2016 Maybe the problem wasn't a scary series of tubes or a creepy guy with a webcam in a hovel. Jordan Crucchiola, Wired News, "Unfriended and Horror's Long Tradition of Fearing New Tech," 17 Apr. 2015 Walking, stunned, from one hovel to the next, Senator Robert F. Kennedy saw conditions that rivaled what he’d seen in third-world countries. Time, "Donald Trump’s Budget Cuts Would Leave Many Americans Hungry," 29 June 2017

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for hovel

Middle English

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Time Traveler for hovel

The first known use of hovel was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of hovel

: a small, poorly built and often dirty house


hov·​el | \ˈhə-vəl, ˈhä-\

Kids Definition of hovel

: a small poorly built usually dirty house

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Comments on hovel

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


by force of circumstances

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