ex·​ca·​vate | \ ˈek-skə-ˌvāt How to pronounce excavate (audio) \
excavated; excavating

Definition of excavate

transitive verb

1 : to form a cavity or hole in
2 : to form by hollowing out
3 : to dig out and remove
4 : to expose to view by or as if by digging away a covering excavate the remains of a temple

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Synonyms for excavate


dig, shovel

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Examples of excavate in a Sentence

They excavated an ancient city. It is the first site to be excavated in this area. They began excavating the backyard for their new pool. The excess dirt was carefully excavated.
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Recent Examples on the Web

In doing so, the show excavates larger questions about masculinity and its recesses. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Big Little Lies Ponders What Makes a Man," 10 June 2019 Originally excavated in the 1960s, Burial 7/I’s remains have been moved to different storage locations and sometimes mishandled, says Roksandic, who examined the skeleton in the late 1990s and is the paper’s co-author. Mark Barna, Discover Magazine, "When Farmers and Foragers First Met," 24 Oct. 2018 Meanwhile, last year, thousands of water service lines were removed and excavated in the city. Monique Judge, The Root, "#Flint: 1,383 Days Without Safe Water, and the EPA Wants to Make Sure This Doesn’t Happen Again," 6 Feb. 2018 There are still bones embedded in the seafloor that the team of divers will be excavating in the coming days. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "Ancient Skeleton at Famous Shipwreck Could Be Tested for DNA," 20 Sep. 2016 The basement apartment was extended to create space for a second bedroom and bathroom by excavating outward into both the backyard and beneath the sidewalk. Ruth Bloomfield, WSJ, "Behind the Scenes of a London Townhouse’s Modern Makeover," 15 Aug. 2018 The couple became famous in the 1980s for excavating Dinosaur Cove in Australia, where several new dinosaur species were discovered. Katie Worth, Scientific American, "When Scientists Are Mad about Each Other," 14 Feb. 2014 As a result, the owners agreed to the commission’s decision to keep the $30,000 that was held in escrow—a requirement when a historic structure is lifted to excavate a basement. Nancy Keates, WSJ, "The Millionaires Living in the Mining Cabins," 1 Nov. 2018 Even if the other crew members did not get off the boat, and went to their deaths trapped in the boat, Sowden's team doesn't expect to excavate enough to find anything. Chuck Yarborough, cleveland.com, "Lost for 189 years, has the Lake Serpent been found in Lake Erie? Dives this summer to confirm," 23 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'excavate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of excavate

1599, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for excavate

borrowed from Latin excavātus, past participle of excavāre "to hollow out, form a hole in," from ex- ex- entry 1 + cavāre "to make hollow, hollow out," verbal derivative of cavus "hollow, concave" — more at hole entry 1

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Statistics for excavate

Last Updated

15 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for excavate

The first known use of excavate was in 1599

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More Definitions for excavate



English Language Learners Definition of excavate

: to uncover (something) by digging away and removing the earth that covers it
: to dig a large hole in (something)
: to form (a hole, tunnel, etc.) by digging


ex·​ca·​vate | \ ˈek-skə-ˌvāt How to pronounce excavate (audio) \
excavated; excavating

Kids Definition of excavate

1 : to expose to view by digging away a covering They've excavated an ancient city.
2 : to hollow out : form a hole in Workers excavated the side of a hill.
3 : to make by hollowing out We must excavate a tunnel.
4 : to dig out and remove Miners excavate diamonds.


ex·​ca·​vate | \ ˈek-skə-ˌvāt How to pronounce excavate (audio) \
excavated; excavating

Medical Definition of excavate

transitive verb

: to form a cavity or hole in an excavated wisdom tooth

intransitive verb

: to make excavations or become hollowed out an area of infarction in soft tissue often tends to excavate

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More from Merriam-Webster on excavate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with excavate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for excavate

Spanish Central: Translation of excavate

Nglish: Translation of excavate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of excavate for Arabic Speakers

Comments on excavate

What made you want to look up excavate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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