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[huhv-uh l, hov-] /ˈhʌv əl, ˈhɒv-/
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), hoveled, hoveling or (especially British) hovelled, hovelling.
to shelter or lodge as in a hovel.
Origin of hovel
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English hovell, of uncertain origin Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for hovel
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The three travellers, having entered the hovel, stopped to examine the curious scene before their eyes.

  • Folk said she snared birds and rabbits, in the thicket that came down to her hovel.

    Curious, if True Elizabeth Gaskell
  • They went into the house: it was rather a hovel than a house; but, poor as it was, it was as neat as misery could make it.

    Children's Literature Charles Madison Curry
  • Situated behind this hovel, was a small piece of land called a garden.

    The Silver Lining John Roussel
  • 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
  • In the street, in the market-place, in the hovel, it gathers food for the hive of its thoughts.

    Zanoni Edward Bulwer Lytton
  • My first school, where I was so proud to be received, was a hovel on the edge of a swamp.

    The Promised Land Mary Antin
  • She was a farmer's wife, and they were huddled in the dirtiest bit of a hovel that I ever saw.

    Heart of Gold Ruth Alberta Brown
British Dictionary definitions for hovel


/ˈhʌvəl; ˈhɒv-/
a ramshackle dwelling place
an open shed for livestock, carts, etc
the conical building enclosing a kiln
verb -els, -elling, -elled (US) -els, -eling, -eled
to shelter or be sheltered in a hovel
Word Origin
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
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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
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