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

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 No Man’s Land’ North and South Korea are preparing to excavate the remains of Korean War soldiers in an area inside the Demilitarized Zone. Andrew Jeong, WSJ, "Old Enemies Meet Again on the Battlefield, This Time to Recover the Dead," 12 Feb. 2019 What was apparent from early efforts to excavate the documents was the government's standards on classification range from ephemeral to nuts. Glenn Garvin, miamiherald, "In latest JFK files, some tantalizing nuggets — and stuff that makes you go 'huh?' | Miami Herald," 27 Apr. 2018 Equipped with pumps and special equipment, Zhilin has returned to Shigir and another bog site about 50 kilometers away to excavate finds buried several meters deep in the waterlogged soil. Andrew Curry, Science | AAAS, "This 11,000-year-old statue unearthed in Siberia may reveal ancient views of taboos and demons," 25 Apr. 2018 At the moment, though, there are no plans to excavate or test the area. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "A Slave Cemetery May Have Been Discovered at a Plantation Near Annapolis," 15 Mar. 2018 Presidio archaeologists are working on a long-term research project to excavate El Presidio de San Francisco, the Spanish-colonial site buried just below the ground in front of the Presidio Officers’ Club. SFChronicle.com, "Kids listings," 12 July 2018 The country only recently began allowing foreign scientists to excavate its ancient sites. National Geographic, "85,000-Year-Old Footprints Show Stepping Stone in Human Migration," 14 May 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

6 Apr 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

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