In earlier centuries the term was applied to those in command of the great voyages of exploration by sea. Nowadays, it is the description of the officer on board ship responsible for navigation. The word is also responsible for the English term navvy, meaning a man who labours with his hands. This originated when the system of canals in England was being brought into existence during the 18th and 19th centuries. Canals were then generally called navigations, the men engaged to dig them being known as navigators, shortened to navvies. The term spread, and the workmen engaged in the railway construction were frequently known as railway navigators.
Subjects: Maritime History.