A shantytown or slum, especially in Brazil.
[Brazilian Portuguese, after the Morro da Favela, a ramshackle housing area constructed on a hill in Rio de Janeiro in 1897 by impoverished soldiers returning from the suppression of a separatist movement in northeast Brazil, after the Morro da Favela, literally, "hill of the favela," a hill in northeast Brazil fortified by the soldiers during the conflict, from favela, the Brazilian shrub Cnidoscolus quercifolius of the spurge family bearing seeds resembling fava beans, from diminutive of Portuguese fava, fava bean, from Latin faba; see bha-bhā in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.