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The words stevedore, docker, dock labourer and longshoreman can have various waterfront-related meanings concerning loading and unloading ships, according to place and country.
The word 'stevedore' originated in Spain or Portugal, and entered the English language through its use by sailors. It started as a phonetic spelling of Spanish estibador or Portuguese estivador = 'a man who stuffs', here in the sense of 'a man who loads ships', which was the original meaning of 'stevedore'; compare Latin st?p?re = 'to stuff'.
In the United Kingdom, men who load and unload ships are usually called dockers while in the United States and Canada the term longshoreman, derived from 'man-along-the-shore,' is used. Before extensive use of container ships and shore-based handling machinery in the US, longshoremen referred exclusively to the dockworkers, while stevedores, in a separate trade union, worked on the ships, operating ship's cranes and moving cargo.
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