Definition of hovel in US English:



  • 1A small, squalid, unpleasant, or simply constructed dwelling.

    • ‘What crazy devil would be mad enough to pay £30,000 to rent some nasty, rat-infested hovel?’
    • ‘There was a brand new television in the middle of their tiny hovel they called home.’
    • ‘Although Uncle Roger lives in a small ramshackle cottage that looks more like a rat-infested hovel, Colin believes the man is a miser, and is sure there's money that has been stashed away.’
    • ‘I saw it all around - the shacks, hovels, families collecting cow dung in the fields or breaking rocks for a new road.’
    • ‘She was waiting this evening for a few more men to notice her before she would leave the fragrant beauty of the bougainvillea above her for the backstreet hovel she called home.’
    • ‘Affluent housing overlooks the older hovels of Mexico City.’
    • ‘An American charity has launched the world's first slum theme park, complete with around 30 ramshackle hovels, a communal outdoor toilet and door-to-door detritus.’
    • ‘Geraldo has lived in tents, alone in the African bush, in hovels, and in quite decent apartments.’
    • ‘Despite their squalid hovels and ragged clothes, Arthur Young reported that the poor of Ireland were ‘as athletic in their form, as robust, and as capable of enduring labour as any upon earth’.’
    • ‘Oh, believe me, Dr Hawkins, I have seen the state of some of their homes, or should I call them hovels?’
    • ‘The burned Negro quarter in Tulsa was described as ‘a mile-square of shacks, huts, and hovels.’’
    • ‘It's just a shame that the house is such a hovel at the moment.’
    • ‘The homes, or rather hovels, that they lived in would not now be considered fit for pigs.’
    • ‘So by now she had twenty of these inbred hell hounds running amuck in her stinking hovel of a home.’
    • ‘The wretch simply ran madly from his hovel and took chase through his so-called garden.’
    • ‘He lived in a hovel of an apartment, sold illegal software, hacked systems, and nursed a feeling of unease.’
    • ‘He finally made his home in an abandoned hovel adjoining a cottage.’
    • ‘For these adorn the once-so-humble hovel of a petrol bunk.’
    • ‘Grungy bands of humans huddle around rubbish fires in hovels constructed of old tires and scrap metal.’
    • ‘It is quite a change from the glamorous Vegas lifestyle this living in a hovel stuff.’
    1. 1.1archaic An open shed or outbuilding, used for sheltering cattle or storing grain or tools.
      • ‘The village became dirtier as they moved away from the castle: shops and smithies gave way to hovels and pig pens.’
      • ‘Kent tries to persuade him to shelter in a hovel, and they go off to look for it.’
      • ‘Nearly the entire 200 kilometre stretch of road was lined with the epitome of mediocrity; a mess of atrocious looking utility hovels, sheds, shops and repair facilities.’
      • ‘After the prayers, Hamad Qadduri stood in his auto parts store, a dusty hovel off a muddy street.’
      shack, slum, shanty, hut, shed, cabin
      View synonyms
  • 2historical A conical building enclosing a kiln.

    • ‘The HOVEL acts as a chimney; taking away the smoke, creating draught and protecting the oven inside from the weather and uneven draughts.’
    • ‘These photos were taken today, and show progress on excavating the centre of the kiln, and also exposing the rest of the outer hovel wall.’


Late Middle English: of unknown origin.