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[dig-er] /ˈdɪg ər/
a person or an animal that digs.
a tool, part of a machine, etc., for digging.
(initial capital letter) Disparaging.. Also called Digger Indian. a member of any of several Indian peoples of western North America, especially of a tribe that dug roots for food.
an Australian or New Zealand soldier of World War I.
(initial capital letter) English History. a member of a group that advocated the abolition of private property and began in 1649 to cultivate certain common lands.
Slang. a person hired by a scalper to buy tickets to a show or performance for resale by the scalper at inflated prices.
Origin of digger
late Middle English
late Middle English word dating back to 1400-50; See origin at dig1, -er1
Usage note
White settlers in the latter half of the 19th century used the term Digger to refer especially to the Ute, Paiute, or Western Shoshone, who foraged and dug in the ground for edible wild plants. The term implies that these Indians were considered to be primitive and animal-like. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for diggers
Historical Examples
  • For too many of the diggers, though they work like horses, spend like asses.

    A Boy's Voyage Round the World The Son of Samuel Smiles
  • I was tolerably successful with the diggers working at their claims.

    A Boy's Voyage Round the World The Son of Samuel Smiles
  • Shovels are furnished by the diggers themselves in Chicago, Ill.

    Concrete Construction Halbert P. Gillette
  • In other words, diggers swarmed to the spot, with no idea of law but digger's law.

    A Simpleton Charles Reade
  • I was witness, too, of an encounter between two large parties of diggers.

    A Voyage round the World W.H.G. Kingston
  • Indeed, this might have been said of most of the diggers around them.

    The Lifeboat R.M. Ballantyne
  • As this was done in the way usually practised by diggers, we shall describe it.

    The Golden Dream R.M. Ballantyne
  • Where were the canvas tents of the diggers, and the claims, and all?

    Teddy J. C. Hutcheson
  • “The fact that the diggers are a sight too many for us,” returned Goff.

    Twice Bought R.M. Ballantyne
  • That is what she was called, anyway, by all the diggers on the Newanga.

British Dictionary definitions for diggers


plural noun
the Diggers, a radical English Puritan group, led by Gerrard Winstanley, which advocated communal ownership of land (1649–50)


a person, animal, or machine that digs
a miner, esp one who digs for gold
a tool or part of a machine used for excavation, esp a mechanical digger fitted with a head for digging trenches


(sometimes not capital) (archaic, slang)
  1. an Australian or New Zealander, esp a soldier: often used as a term of address
  2. (as modifier): a Digger accent
one of a number of tribes of America whose diet was largely composed of roots dug out of the ground
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for diggers



mid-15c., "one who digs," agent noun from dig (v.). The communistic movement in England so called from 1649.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for diggers



  1. An Australian or New Zealander (WWI Australian and New Zealand)
  2. gold-digger: She was just a plain digger (1920+)
  3. A pickpocket (1930s+)
  4. A person who buys tickets to be sold at prices higher than is legally permitted; scalper: They use diggers, dozens of guys who stand in lines and buy the maximum (1970s+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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