Definition of gandy dancer in US English:

gandy dancer


North American
  • A track maintenance worker on a railroad.

    • ‘I'm writing an article on gandy dancers for Alabama Heritage Magazine, and I'm wondering if you can help me out with a bit of research.’
    • ‘The songs of gandy dancers were in the tradition of work songs used in the fields of the South during slavery.’
    • ‘As a child, he would tag along with the field workers and gandy dancers and learned to sing old call-and-answer songs.’
    • ‘The term ‘gandy dancers’ originated from the dancing movements exhibited by railroad workers while using railroad tools that were manufactured by the Gandy Manufacturing Company of Chicago.’
    • ‘The gandy dancers' expertise in railroad track maintenance and their work song tradition is unparalleled.’
    • ‘And, I'd see the gandy dancers coming down the tracks setting the rails and getting their ties straight.’
    • ‘As you must already know (tag-railroad), a gandy dancer is a generic name for a railroad section laborer, those men that toil actually laying track, and who often can be seen late at night especially on payday dancing the gandy.’
    • ‘If I were a hobo I would call myself a gandy dancer, whether I worked for the railroad or not.’
    • ‘The Alaska Geographic Society's publication, Alaska's Railroads, contains a photo of 9 Cantwell women who were employed by the railroad for about 6 years after WWII as gandy dancers, a phrase that holds a certain mystique.’
    • ‘Prior to the 1960s, the all-black gandy dancer crews used songs and chants to help accomplish specific tasks and to send coded messages to each other so as not to be understood by the foreman and others.’


Early 20th century: of unknown origin.


gandy dancer

/ˈɡandē ˌdansər/