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See also: hověl and høvel



From Middle English hovel, hovil, hovylle, diminutive of *hove, *hof (structure, building, house), from Old English hof (an enclosure, court, dwelling, house), from Proto-Germanic *hufą (hill, farm), from Proto-Indo-European *kewp- (arch, bend, buckle), equivalent to howf +‎ -el. Compare Middle High German hobel (cover, lid, covered wagon). Cognate with Dutch hof (garden, court), German Hof (yard, garden, court, palace), Icelandic hof (temple, hall). Related to hove and hover.


  • IPA(key): /ˈhɒvəl/, /ˈhʌvəl/
  • Rhymes: -ɒvəl
  • Rhymes: -ʌvəl
  • (file)


hovel (plural hovels)

  1. An open shed for sheltering cattle, or protecting produce, etc., from the weather.
  2. (derogatory) A poor cottage; a small, mean house; a hut.
    Synonyms: shack, shanty
    • 1886 October – 1887 January, H[enry] Rider Haggard, She: A History of Adventure, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., published 1887, →OCLC:
      'Behold! once more I kiss thee, and by that kiss I give to thee dominion over sea and earth, over the peasant in his hovel, over the monarch in his palace halls, and cities crowned with towers, and those who breathe therein.'
    • 1944, Miles Burton, chapter 5, in The Three Corpse Trick:
      The hovel stood in the centre of what had once been a vegetable garden, but was now a patch of rank weeds. Surrounding this, almost like a zareba, was an irregular ring of gorse and brambles, an unclaimed vestige of the original common.
    • 2000, Thomas à Kempis, “[The Sacrament of the Altar: How to Prepare for It & What It Tastes Like] Frequency”, in William Griffin, transl., The Imitation of Christ: How Jesus Wants Us to Live [] A Contemporary Version, HarperSanFrancisco, →ISBN, page 238:
      I have to say it again, my Dearest Friend. What a wonderful Comedown for the Godhead! What a wonderful Comeuppance for Humankind! That’s because You, Lord God, Creator, Bellows Maker of All That Breathes, deigned to come to my hovel of a soul; once there, to fatten up the leanness of my soul with the plumpitude of Your Sacrament; that’s to say, with the plenitude of Your Divinity and Humanity.
  3. In the manufacture of porcelain, a large, conical brick structure around which the firing kilns are grouped.



hovel (third-person singular simple present hovels, present participle hovelling or hoveling, simple past and past participle hovelled or hoveled)

  1. (transitive) To put in a hovel; to shelter.
  2. (transitive) To construct a chimney so as to prevent smoking, by making two of the more exposed walls higher than the others, or making an opening on one side near the top.