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gandy dancer

[gan-dee] /ˈgæn di/
noun, Railroads Slang.
a member of a railroad section gang that lays or maintains track.
Origin of gandy dancer
1915-20; dancer apparently in reference to the rhythmic movements characteristic of such work; gandy is unexplained; the existence of a Gandy Manufacturing Company, which supposedly produced tools used by section gangs, has not been substantiated Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for gandy dancer

gandy dancer

(slang) a railway track maintenance worker
Word Origin
C20: of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for gandy dancer

"railroad maintenance worker," 1918, American English slang, of unknown origin; dancer perhaps from movements required in the work of tamping down ties or pumping a hand-cart, gandy perhaps from the name of a machinery belt company in Baltimore, Maryland.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for gandy dancer

gandy dancer

noun phrase

  1. A railroad track worker (1915+ Hoboes, railroad & lumberjacks)
  2. Any manual laborer, esp a pick-and-shovel digger (1940s+ Loggers)
  3. A seller of novelties (1930s+ Carnival)

[origin unknown; a 1935 source says that the third sense was ''mentioned by George Borrow in his descriptions of early nineteenth-century street fairs'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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