A jacal in Arizona, USA
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From Mexican Spanish jacal, from Nahuatl xacalli.



jacal (plural jacals or jacales)

  1. A wattle-and-mud hut common in Mexico and the southwestern US.
    • 1930, Katherine Anne Porter, “María Concepción” in The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1965, p. 5,[1]
      The leaning jacal of dried rush-withes and corn sheaves, bound to tall saplings thrust into the earth, roofed with yellowed maguey leaves flattened and overlapping like shingles, hunched drowsy and fragrant in the warmth of noonday.
    • 1992, Cormac McCarthy, All The Pretty Horses:
      A few jacales of brush and mud with brush roofs and a pole corral where five scrubby horses with big heads stood looking solemnly at the horses passing in the road.
    • 2013, Philipp Meyer, The Son, Simon & Schuster 2014, p. 84:
      Canning fruit and vegetables in the worst of the summer heat—hotter in the jacals than it was outside.

Related termsEdit



From Classical Nahuatl xahcalli, a conflation of xāmitl (adobe) + calli (house).


  • IPA(key): /xaˈkal/ [xaˈkal]
  • Rhymes: -al
  • Hyphenation: ja‧cal


jacal m (plural jacales)

  1. (Mexico) jacal
  2. (Mexico) hut, hovel, shack
    Synonyms: cabaña, casucha, choza, cuchitril, champa

Derived termsEdit


  • English: jacal

Further readingEdit