[ nav-ee ]
/ ˈnæv i /

noun, plural nav·vies. British Informal.

an unskilled manual laborer.


Origin of navvy

First recorded in 1825–35; short for navigator Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for navvy

British Dictionary definitions for navvy


/ (ˈnævɪ) /

noun plural -vies

British informal a labourer on a building site, excavations, etc

Word Origin for navvy

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

Word Origin and History for navvy



"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