Songs sung by sailors at work, to ensure united action. They are in sets, each of which has a different cadence adapted to the work in hand. Thus, in sheeting topsails, weighing anchor, etc., one of the most popular of the shanty songs runs thus:
I'm bound away, this very day, I'm bound for the Rio Grande. Ho, you, Rio! Then fare you well, my bonny blue bell, I'm bound for the Rio Grande.
(French, chanter, to sing; a sing-song.)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894