American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. Chiefly British A laborer, especially one employed in construction or excavation projects.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. Same as navigation, 4.
- n. Same as navigator, 2.
- n. A common laborer engaged in such work as the making of canals or railways.
- n. A power-machine for excavating earth. A common form has an excavating scoop, crab, or analogous device for scooping up earth or gravel, or grasping stones, with a boom and tackle for lifting and operating the scoop, etc., and a steam hoisting-engine, all mounted on a supporting platform provided with car-wheels so that it can be moved on a temporary railway for changing its position. Similar machines are also mounted on large scow-boats for use along water-fronts. Also called
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. engraving Originally, a laborer on canals for internal navigation; hence, a laborer on other public works, as in building railroads, embankments, etc.
- n. a laborer who is obliged to do menial work
- From the navigation canals upon which these workers first toiled. (Wiktionary)
- Short for navigator, canal laborer (obsolete). (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“The navvy was a fine specimen of humanity, with a complexion tanned a dusky coffee colour.”
“Sanitary Tom" (as the boys called the navvy who was his stout ally), had been at work laying bare the subterranean geography of our premises and making all right.”
“It was in the formation of this, the true beginning of railways, that the British "navvy" was called into being.”
“He can doff them and work like a 'navvy' when he sees reason.”
“navvy," had just disposed of a supply of rugs and was wending his way homeward at the same time.”
“He was good for nothing now except navvy work, and his broken nose and swollen ear were against him even in that.”
“He had done a few days 'navvy work when he could get it, and he had run around the Domain in the early mornings to get his legs in shape.”
“He felt weak and sore, and the pain of his smashed knuckles warned him that, even if he could find a job at navvy work, it would be a week before he could grip a pick handle or a shovel.”
“Oh, I sleep like a baby, eat like a navvy, and in years have not enjoyed such physical well-being.”
“It is a building where the homeless, bedless, penniless man, if he be lucky, may CASUALLY rest his weary bones, and then work like a navvy next day to pay for it.”
These user-created lists contain the word ‘navvy’.
A list of words that are odd or words that I have looked up.
From Chambers's Etymology Dictionary, published in 1896
'He spent the greater part of his life campaigning to have respelt those words that LOOK as though they are spelt wrongly but aren't.'
Re Otto Tibbit's father, fourteen times Scrabble champio...
for the same
... as in "by James Joyce"
R. Peter Jackson's list
Economists like to cite "buggy whip maker" as an example of a profession whose career prospects were dimmed, and ultimately quenched, by the inexorable march of technological progress. This is a li...
Just what it sounds like. My favorites. Five letters.
Words I come across at work.
Now stripped of most military terms, which have found a new home on the list Historical Military Terms of Interest. See also (and add to!) hilarious misspe...
Some of these professions still exist today but the word for them has changed; some (mason or boatswain, for example), are still in use but are included for their rich historical associations. Som...
Common words or phrases of nautical origin that have taken on different or metaphorical meanings. Chained_bear and I tossed a coin over who would make the list. I won (or lost, depending on how you...
scuttlebutt, taken aback, brass monkey, boot camp, clean bill of health, three sheets to t..., the devil to pay, between the devil..., by and large, the whole nine yards, mind your ps and qs, slush fund and 116 more...
Britishisms and Anglophilia - Mencken has a great, if dated, list of comparisons between the British and American words here.
Looking for tweets for navvy.