Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A seat, usually fitted with a canopy and railing, placed on the back of an elephant or a camel.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A seat, usually with a canopy, carried on the back of an elephant or camel.
  • n. An ornate carriage which is positioned on the back of elephants or occasionally other animals, used most often in the past for rich people who travelled in India via elephant.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A seat or pavilion, generally covered, fastened on the back of an elephant, for the rider or riders.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A seat, commonly with a railing and canopy, erected on the back of an elephant for two or more persons to ride in.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a (usually canopied) seat for riding on the back of a camel or elephant

Etymologies

Urdu haudah, from Arabic hawdaj, litter, sedan chair, from hadaja, to shuffle along, totter; see hdg in Semitic roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Hindi hauda, from Arabic هودج (hawdaj, "litter carried by a camel"). (1774) (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • And so the procession started, and for a while discomfort set acutely in, for the movement of a howdah is short and jerky, and it takes some time both to adjust oneself to it and to lose the feeling that the elephant sooner or later -- and probably sooner -- must trip and fall.

    Roving East and Roving West

  • The howdah was a wooden structure with a gold and gilt roof, four pillars, a broad seat strewn with comfortable cushions and bolsters, thin muslin curtains enfolding the whole.

    Shadow Princess

  • The "howdah" elephants would all be sent on to the appointed rendezvous, the entire party going out to meet them on "pad" elephants.

    Here, There and Everywhere

  • The African elephant may be domesticated and trained to the "howdah," or castle, as easily as his Indian cousin.

    Popular Adventure Tales

  • Ms. de Guitaut says that the third rose-cut diamond on the howdah blanket moves sideways to reveal the keyhole where it is wound up.

    A Palace's Small Treasures

  • Due to space constraints, the museum here has had to make do with its own intricately carved gilded silver howdah and an even more impressive 15-foot-long coach of 1815 made entirely of silver.

    Conspicuous Consumption

  • Princess Jahanara Begam journeyed in an open howdah set atop an imperial elephant.

    Shadow Princess

  • Princess Jahanara Begam stayed in her howdah for the rest of the journey, refusing company even when they halted for the night or for meals.

    Shadow Princess

  • Jahanara rose and went to the waiting howdah outside filled with a sense of dread.

    Shadow Princess

  • Somewhere up ahead was the imperial elephant that Bapa rode upon, seated in a silver and gold howdah, surrounded by the nobles at court, all jostling for a position close to him, hoping for a benevolent glance, a dropped word that would change their fortunes forever.

    Shadow Princess

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  • To the native Indian of Peru, the continual sight of the snow-howdahed Andes conveys naught of dread, except, perhaps, in the mere fancying of the eternal frosted desolateness reigning at such vast altitudes...

    - Melville, Moby-Dick, ch. 42

    July 25, 2008