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navvy

[nav-ee] /ˈnæv i/
noun, plural navvies. British Informal.
1.
an unskilled manual laborer.
Origin of navvy
1825-1835
First recorded in 1825-35; short for navigator
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for navvy

navvy

/ˈnævɪ/
noun (pl) -vies
1.
(Brit, informal) a labourer on a building site, excavations, etc
Word Origin
C19: shortened from navigator, builder of a navigation (sense 4)
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 navvy
n.

"laborer on a canal or railroad," 1832, colloquial shortening of navigator (q.v.) in its sense of "one who digs navigation canals."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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