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gandy dancer

[gan-dee]
noun Railroads Slang.
  1. a member of a railroad section gang that lays or maintains track.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for gandy dancer

gandy dancer

noun
  1. slang a railway track maintenance worker
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Word Origin for gandy dancer

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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper