A roustabout is a labourer typically performing temporary, unskilled work. The term has traditionally been used to refer to traveling-circus workers or oil rig workers. A variation in spelling, rouseabout (often abbreviated to 'Rousie'), is commonly used in Australia and New Zealand to refer to workers handling wool after it has been taken from the sheep's back during annual shearing operations

"Roustabout" is also an official classification of oil rig personnel. Roustabouts working in the North American oil fields typically perform various jobs requiring little training. However, they frequently turn out to be long-term employees and take on more difficult and sometimes dangerous jobs as they gain experience. Most go on to at least become roughnecks if they work for the oil rig company for more than a few months.

Popular Culture

The term was used in Disney's 1941 animated film Dumbo, during a musical scene in which a group of laborers pulled circus materials off the train for construction. Roustabout is also a 1964 musical movie starring Elvis Presley, Barbara Stanwyck, and Joan Freeman in a story set in a traveling carnival. Additionally, the term is used in the song The Mariner's Revenge Song, by The Decemberists.

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