Definition of bidonville in English:



  • A shanty town built of oil drums or other metal containers, especially on the outskirts of a North African city.

    • ‘The people of the bidonvilles are entirely cut off from the elites.’
    • ‘A 1989 census found that 23 percent of the urban population lives in precarious and illegally built shacks in bidonvilles, or in somewhat better but substandard housing built without permit on unserviced land.’
    • ‘Others live in shantytowns, or bidonvilles, which are often bulldozed into oblivion by the town councils while the occupants are at a local feast.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, an estimated 20,000 poor and unemployed citizens live in slums or bidonvilles on the outskirts of the capital.’
    • ‘The site is next to the usually dry wadi which runs through the bidonville and hence it was available for development.’


1950s: from French, from bidon ‘container for liquids’ + ville ‘town’.