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


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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 Investigators began excavating, finding an arm and two legs nearby, also wrapped in burlap. CBS News, "Headless torso found in Idaho cave identified as outlaw who escaped jail in 1916," 1 Jan. 2020 Soft, excavated, and, if boobs had feelings, a bit sad, my pre-baby 34Cs were now teeny Bs. Rebecca Brown, Glamour, "This Bra Helped Me Get My Boobs Back After Breastfeeding," 24 Dec. 2019 In the 1930s, a team of Dutch explorers excavated a site by Java’s Solo River, near the village of Ngandong. Michael Price, Science | AAAS, "Ancient human species made ‘last stand’ 100,000 years ago on Indonesian island," 18 Dec. 2019 No archaeologist had ever excavated one of the enigmatic objects, leading some scholars to think of Egyptian head cones as merely symbolic representations—the equivalent of the halos that appear on saints and angels in Christian iconography. National Geographic, "Ancient Egyptian 'head cone mystery' solved by archaeologists," 11 Dec. 2019 Crews excavated paving stones and practiced flinging them in slingshots rigged from helmets, rubber cords and weight room benches. Suzanne Sataline, Quartz, "How one fighter made his escape from the worst battle of Hong Kong’s protests," 30 Nov. 2019 Even the famously expository prequels didn’t spend so long excavating Force doctrine. Darren Franich, EW.com, "Star Wars rewatch: The Last Jedi destroys a legend to rebuild the same legend," 16 Dec. 2019 United Nations deminers began excavating the area in October, steadily piling up a small set-piece of the Afghan-Soviet war: A Russian parachute flare, steel ammunition tins. Fatima Faizi, New York Times, "Afghanistan’s Curse: A Bomb From 2 Wars Ago Crushes a Family Today," 21 Nov. 2019 The 700-year-old sword, discovered in the Vrbas River, was found 36 feet underwater, stuck in a rock while archaeologists were excavating a nearby castle, The Sun reports. Fox News, "'Excalibur' found? 700-year-old sword discovered stuck in a rock," 26 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for excavate

Time Traveler

The first known use of excavate was in 1599

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Statistics for excavate

Last Updated

12 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Excavate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/excavate. Accessed 18 January 2020.

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More Definitions for excavate


How to pronounce excavate (audio)

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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Comments on excavate

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