• Navvy on girders
    Navvy on girders
  • WordNet 3.6
    • n navvy a laborer who is obliged to do menial work
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Navvy Originally, a laborer on canals for internal navigation; hence, a laborer on other public works, as in building railroads, embankments, etc.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n navvy Same as navigation, 4.
    • n navvy Same as navigator, 2.
    • n navvy A common laborer engaged in such work as the making of canals or railways.
    • n navvy 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 steam-excavator.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Navvy nav′i a labourer—originally a labourer on a navigation or canal: a machine for digging out earth, &c
    • Navvy called also French navvy:—pl. Navv′ies
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Abbreviated fr. navigator,


In literature:

One had red hair and the other black, and they were dressed like navvies.
"Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 150, May 10, 1916" by Various
Near at hand was a beer-shop, frequented by the navvies and carters.
"Stories of Animal Sagacity" by W.H.G. Kingston
The young navvy had to find his own liquor.
"The Toilers of the Field" by Richard Jefferies
The navvies, however, did more than smile.
"Change in the Village" by (AKA George Bourne) George Sturt
Reckless alike of their lives as of their earnings, the navvies worked hard and lived hard.
"Lives of the Engineers The Locomotive. George and Robert Stephenson" by Samuel Smiles
The first remark was from a man dressed as a navvy, with a short clay pipe in his mouth.
"The Message" by Alec John Dawson
In the meanwhile an army of navvies was drafted to the spot, and worked day and night to repair the damage.
"Mugby Junction" by Charles Dickens
The navvy had given him so strange a look.
"Messengers of Evil" by Pierre Souvestre
He was not a navvy either, but a merchant of good standing.
"Home Life in Germany" by Mrs. Alfred Sidgwick
Well, and what did the navvy say to you?
"Not Like Other Girls" by Rosa N. Carey

In poetry:

One night I saw two navvies fighting
They must have been six foot three
I saw one get hit with a pick-axe
Did I interfere - not me.
"The Sergeant's Overcoat (Or The Policeman That Nearly Got Caught)" by Billy Bennett
BOB POLTER was a navvy, and
His hands were coarse, and dirty too,
His homely face was rough and tanned,
His time of life was thirty-two.
"Bob Polter" by William Schwenck Gilbert