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[shan-tee] /ˈʃæn ti/
noun, plural shanties.
a crudely built hut, cabin, or house.
of, relating to, or constituting a shanty or shanties:
a shanty quarter outside the town walls.
of a low economic or social class, especially when living in a shanty:
shanty people.
verb (used without object), shantied, shantying.
to inhabit a shanty.
1810-20; probably < Canadian French chantier lumber camp, hut; French: yard, depot, gantry, stand for barrels < Latin cant(h)ērius rafter, prop, literally, horse in poor condition, nag < Greek kanthḗlios pack ass
Related forms
shantylike, adjective


[shan-tee] /ˈʃæn ti/
noun, plural shanties.
1. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for shanty
  • The police said they had warned the shanty occupants a week in advance that the structures would be destroyed.
  • Without mortgage lending, there are never enough houses in shanty towns.
  • And the shanty towns rang with their songs and their fights.
  • Yet initially they seem to blend perfectly with the shanty towns in which they stand.
  • But fearing the development of sprawling shanty towns around big cities, it has focused on developing smaller towns.
  • These people are given tin sheets to build shanty towns-but no compensation.
  • Runaway fires are common place in the crowded dry shanty towns.
  • Fine, the posh areas still intersperse with the shanty areas.
  • The footpaths have become shanty towns of new migrants.
  • But hey, you can make a fast buck handing out pre-approved home loans in homeless shelters and shanty towns.
British Dictionary definitions for shanty


noun (pl) -ties
a ramshackle hut; crude dwelling
(Austral & NZ) a public house, esp an unlicensed one
(formerly, in Canada)
  1. a log bunkhouse at a lumber camp
  2. the camp itself
Word Origin
C19: from Canadian French chantier cabin built in a lumber camp, from Old French gantiergantry


noun (pl) -ties, -teys
a song originally sung by sailors, esp a rhythmic one forming an accompaniment to work
Word Origin
C19: from French chanter to sing; see chant
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
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Word Origin and History for shanty

"rough cabin," 1820, from Canadian French chantier "lumberjack's headquarters," in French, "timberyard, dock," from Old French chantier "gantry," from Latin cantherius "rafter, frame" (see gantry). Shanty Irish in reference to the Irish underclass in the U.S., is from 1928 (title of a book by Jim Tully).

"sea song," 1867, alternative spelling of chanty (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for shanty

shank it

verb phrase

To walk; hike (1862+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Encyclopedia Article for shanty


also spelled Chantey, or Chanty (from French chanter, "to sing"), English-language sailors' work song dating from the days of sailing ships, when manipulating heavy sails, by means of ropes, from positions on the deck constituted a large part of a sailor's work. The leader, or shantyman, chosen for his seamanship rather than his musical talent, stood at the leading position on the rope, while the sailors crouched along the rope behind him. The shantyman would intone a line of a song and the group respond in chorus, heaving on the rope at a given point in the melody. The shantyman was one of the crucial members of the ship's crew, and it was said that "a good shantyman was worth four extra hands on the rope." He selected a song of appropriate type and speed for the task, and, by improvising verses, he could spin the song out for as long as needed; shanty texts are thus far more fluid than published versions indicate.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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