[huhv-uh l, hov-]


a small, very humble dwelling house; a wretched hut.
any dirty, disorganized dwelling.
an open shed, as for sheltering cattle or tools.

verb (used with object), hov·eled, hov·el·ing or (especially British) hov·elled, hov·el·ling.

to shelter or lodge as in a hovel.

Origin of hovel

1375–1425; late Middle English hovell, of uncertain origin
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hovel

Contemporary Examples of hovel

Historical Examples of hovel

  • The hovel of a cutter of wood into lengths for burning, was the only house at that end; all else was wall.

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Charles Dickens

  • He owned a piece of land beside the hovel of Hyacinthe Fouan.

    A Zola Dictionary

    J. G. Patterson

  • Yes, our love shall dwell in a palace of health, not in a hovel of disease.

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

  • Certainly there was nothing gay to look at in the four corners of the hovel.


    Emile Zola

  • Pierre pictured the hovel in the old quarter, which had just been mentioned by Felicite.

British Dictionary definitions for hovel



a ramshackle dwelling place
an open shed for livestock, carts, etc
the conical building enclosing a kiln

verb -els, -elling or -elled or US -els, -eling or -eled

to shelter or be sheltered in a hovel

Word Origin for hovel

C15: of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for hovel

mid-14c., "roofed passage, vent for smoke," later "shed for animals" (mid-15c.), of unknown origin. Meaning "shed for human habitation; rude or miserable cabin" is from 1620s. It also sometimes meant "canopied niche for a statue or image" (mid-15c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper