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From Middle English hovel, hovil, hovylle, diminutive of 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. Cognate with Dutch hof (garden, court), German Hof (yard, garden, court, palace), Icelandic hof (temple, hall). Related to hove and hover.



hovel (plural hovels)

  1. An open shed for sheltering cattle, or protecting produce, etc., from the weather.
  2. A poor cottage; a small, mean house; a hut.
    • 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.
  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.
    • Shakespeare
      To hovel thee with swine, and rogues forlorn.
    • Alfred Tennyson
      The poor are hovelled and hustled together.
  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.