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 Witches Are Coming, excavates the corners of her brain. Samantha Leach, Glamour, "Lindy West Has a New Book, a Hit TV Show, and No Shortage of Opinions," 11 Nov. 2019 The re-enactment, led by the New York artist Dread Scott, excavated the memory of an event that organizers saw as an inspiring display of courage. New York Times, "A Slave Rebellion Rises Again," 9 Nov. 2019 Over the course of six years, scientists from the Israel Antiquities Authority and Tel Aviv University excavated the site and found over 100 coins beneath the road dating between 17 AD and 31 AD. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "'Lost' Road Built by Christ's Executioner Unearthed," 21 Oct. 2019 The new workers will be excavating further down the channel so water can flow under the Stanford Road bridge in Boston Township. Robin Goist, cleveland, "Army Corps of Engineers awards contract for restoration of Stanford Run in Cuyahoga Valley National Park," 7 Oct. 2019 Zeynep Ahunbay, professor of architectural history at Istanbul Technical University, believes at least one-third of Hasankeyf’s historical treasures — many of them excavated — will be flooded. Kim Willsher, Los Angeles Times, "One of the oldest known human settlements is about to be swallowed whole," 3 Oct. 2019 Archaeologists excavated part of the old city center of Yaroslavl, Russia, between 2005 and 2010 as part of an effort to restore its cathedral. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Archaeologists unearth mass graves from Mongol invasion of Russia," 11 Sep. 2019 More than 400 mound sites, known as middens, have been recorded in Marin County, including one in Larkspur that archaeologists excavated for the first time in 2014, revealing a treasure trove of Coast Miwok life dating back 4,500 years. Peter Fimrite, SFChronicle.com, "Artifacts alter timeline for Native Americans in California," 8 Sep. 2019 In mid-July, Poor said, contractors will begin excavating earth and demolishing the four oldest buildings at the site. Emily Brindley, courant.com, "Work to restart next month at Ideanomics on former UConn campus in West Hartford," 28 June 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

16 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Excavate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/excavating. Accessed 21 November 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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