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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Ana discloses that her father is hostile to Janis’s efforts to excavate the grave. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 27 Dec. 2021 Their light, hollow bones -- potato chip-like in texture -- are very difficult to excavate without damaging them. Katie Hunt, CNN, 11 Dec. 2021 After more than seven decades of stop-start attempts to excavate a nearly 2-mile ancient walkway in the southern city of Luxor, Egypt will finally open the 3,000-year-old Avenue of Sphinxes to the public Thursday in a glitzy ceremony. Hatem Maher, ABC News, 23 Nov. 2021 Museums everywhere have worked to excavate more complex truths in their collections for years. BostonGlobe.com, 15 Oct. 2021 The prints were discovered in La Rioja, Spain, around 35 years ago, but scientists didn't fully excavate all the tracks until more recently. Rasha Aridi, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Dec. 2021 More important, though, these tees excavate an intimate history. Charlene K. Lau, The Atlantic, 16 Nov. 2021 The archaeologists and adventurers who came to excavate the past and claim its treasures were seeking scientific knowledge, professional glory and tangible proof of their connection to the ancient biblical text. Washington Post, 10 Dec. 2021 But in 2010, instead of planting, the family watched four men with shovels excavate and haul away the soil. New York Times, 3 Dec. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near excavate

ex cathedra



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Statistics for excavate

Last Updated

16 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Excavate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/excavate. Accessed 21 Jan. 2022.

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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

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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