Definitions

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

  • n. A song sung by sailors to the rhythm of their movements while working.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A song a sailor sings, especially in rhythm to his work.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A sailor's song.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A sailors′ song.
  • n. Specifically, a song sung by sailors when at work together, as in hauling or heaving, etc., the better to secure a united pull at the proper moment, which is indicated by the ictus or beat of the music. See chantey-man.

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

  • n. a rhythmical work song originally sung by sailors

Etymologies

Probably from French chantez, imperative pl. of chanter, to sing, from Old French; see chant.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • And whether by happy chance or on some signal dropped down from him or because the chantey was a new one and the crew were glad to show it off, it was chosen.

    Gideon's Band A Tale of the Mississippi

  • She was not looking at the music before her, but up at nothing, while her hands ran over the keyboard, playing an old sailor's "chantey" which Lowell has taught us.

    Captain Macklin

  • "chantey" is given, copied from an old scrapbook, and while it can hardly be recommended as a delectable piece of literature, in any sense, it is interesting, aside from its Stevensonian connection, as a bit of rough, unstudied sailor's jingle, the very authorship of which is long since forgotten.

    The Dead Men's Song Being the Story of a Poem and a Reminiscent Sketch of its Author Young Ewing Allison

  • It was only a little boy, singing in a shrill treble the sea chantey which seamen sing the wide world over when they man the capstan bars and break the anchors out for "Frisco" port.

    The Banks of the Sacramento

  • Young Jerry only was to be seen, sitting on the cabin step and singing the ancient chantey.

    The Banks of the Sacramento

  • For Old Jerry had been a sailor, and had followed the sea till middle life, haunted always by the words of the ringing chantey.

    The Banks of the Sacramento

  • With folk song - and sea chantey-inflected songs by Steve Goers, a book and lyrics by Alyn Cardarelli and lively direction by Paul Bosco McEneaney, the production is one part cozy adventure and three parts kooky shiver-me-timbers atmospherics.

    Imagination Stage's 'How I Became a Pirate" is a matey good play for kids

  • No, the march, the work song, the love lyric, the ballad, the sea chantey, the nursery rhyme, the limerick—those are the preeminent forms, and all those have four beats to them.

    THE ANTHOLOGIST

  • But then when I searched for individual songs I remembered, I sailed into another kind of semantic fog: there are lots and lots of sea chantey sites and recordings that masked the instance I was looking for.

    Rambles at starchamber.com » Blog Archive » Sea songs and semantic distance

  • Sister Holler is full of twisted takes on tradition: a sea chantey, a blues, a couple of ballads, some gospel, New Orleans flavored ragtime, and even a touch of singer/songwriter pop.

    July 31, 2007

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