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

Synonyms for excavate


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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.
Recent Examples on the Web Master Chief is supposed to be completely controllable, but starts feeling new emotions after grabbing a mysterious glowing object that the Covenant is trying to excavate. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, 30 Jan. 2022 Memories of trauma — buried deep within the body, locked in a casket of shame — are difficult to excavate. Thr Staff, The Hollywood Reporter, 7 Jan. 2022 In January, the cones began to crack, allowing the olingos to excavate the now-mature, rank-smelling seeds with their teeth and claws. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 1 Apr. 2022 In 2016, Linda Shauvin pushed the DPAA to reconsider the decision not to excavate further. Stephen Smith, CBS News, 24 Mar. 2022 After finding the dinosaur remains in 2014, Pfister took more than a year to excavate the bones with a couple of his colleagues. Megan Marples, CNN, 20 Mar. 2022 Construction will be especially costly because the developers will have to excavate five stories of dirt at a cost of about $93 million, helping bring the overall price tag to $1.6 billion. Roger Vincent Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 12 Nov. 2021 Researchers have asked the city of Tulsa to continue their research and excavate more areas to look for remains at Oaklawn Cemetery and other nearby areas where remains of victims may be found. Joseph Pisani, WSJ, 5 Mar. 2022 After conferring with Smit and her advisor Jeroen van der Lubbe, During went out to Tanis to excavate fossil fish from the site. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for excavate

Time Traveler

The first known use of excavate was in 1599

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Dictionary Entries Near excavate

ex cathedra



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Statistics for excavate

Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Excavate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/excavate. Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for excavate


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

More from Merriam-Webster on excavate

Nglish: Translation of excavate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of excavate for Arabic Speakers


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