NAVVY, a labourer employed in the digging and excavating of earth, &c., in the construction of railways, docks, canals or other engineering operations. The word is a shortened form of "navigator," applied during the 18th and early part of the 19th centuries to a labourer at work on canals, to which the name "navigation" is often applied. Power-machines (excavators) for performing such work are consequently known as "steamnavvies."
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