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 The Alabama Historical Commission has moved to protect the site; as yet, no decision has been made about whether the wreckage will be excavated and restored, or where it might be displayed. al, "Marine conference to include look at Clotilda science," 3 Nov. 2019 The layer of coal in the region is too shallow for underground mining, so Parsa East and Kanta Basan is an open-pit mine: excavated from above, digging into the land near the sacred grove. Kuwar Singh, Quartz India, "An Indian mining conglomerate is eating up a sacred forest grove," 24 Oct. 2019 Evidence of a massive, marching dinosaur called an Iguanodon was excavated after Highway 40 was designated in 1926. John Wenzel, The Know, "Ten pieces of Colfax Avenue history you can buy in Colfax Museum’s $150,000 fire sale," 24 Oct. 2019 Schiff’s insights have been patiently accumulated over the course of a lifetime, excavated from the music’s depths. BostonGlobe.com, "With rigor and fantasy in equal parts, pianist András Schiff returns to the BSO - The Boston Globe," 19 Oct. 2019 That project took sand excavated from the nearby San Elijo Lagoon as part of a $2.5 million restoration project and pumped it onto the beach. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Oceanside to launch sand retention study," 13 Oct. 2019 During Rodgers’s surgery, before attaching the patella tendon as the new ACL, Martin soaked the tendon in liquid containing stem cells excavated from the player’s bone marrow. Ross Dellenger, SI.com, "How Amari Rodgers Beat the Odds With a Remarkably Fast ACL Recovery," 26 Sep. 2019 The agency has identified more than 100 individuals excavated from Tarawa and the Honolulu cemetery since 2015. CBS News, "Graves of 30 U.S. Marines, sailors found on Pacific World War II battlefield," 26 June 2019 In the 1740s, Dubreuil had a diversion canal excavated from the levee through the center of his parcel, to power a sawmill with the flow of river water. Richard Campanella, NOLA.com, "Krewe du Vieux 2018: Take a virtual tour of the route with King Richard Campanella," 23 Jan. 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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Time Traveler for excavate

Time Traveler

The first known use of excavate was in 1599

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Statistics for excavate

Last Updated

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Excavate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/excavate?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=e&file=excava01. Accessed 9 December 2019.

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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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