Definition of chawl in English:


(also chal)


  • (in South Asia) a large building divided into many separate tenements, offering cheap, basic accommodation to labourers.

    • ‘And we, who reside in the overcrowded chawls, we simply live.’
    • ‘They lived together in a room apartment in a chawl owned by the local touts.’
    • ‘When the textile mills were set up in Bombay the employers were required to provide housing in the form of chawls for their workers.’
    • ‘For the first time, women from the chawls and slums came forward.’
    • ‘He has not forgotten the crowded chawl he lived in before he got his first break.’


From Marathi cāḷ, denoting a long narrow building.