See more synonyms for dig on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object), dug or (Archaic) digged, dig·ging.
  1. to break up, turn over, or remove earth, sand, etc., as with a shovel, spade, bulldozer, or claw; make an excavation.
  2. to make one's way or work by or as by removing or turning over material: to dig through the files.
verb (used with object), dug or (Archaic) digged, dig·ging.
  1. to break up, turn over, or loosen (earth, sand, etc.), as with a shovel, spade, or bulldozer (often followed by up).
  2. to form or excavate (a hole, tunnel, etc.) by removing material.
  3. to unearth, obtain, or remove by digging (often followed by up or out).
  4. to find or discover by effort or search.
  5. to poke, thrust, or force (usually followed by in or into): He dug his heel into the ground.
  1. thrust; poke: He gave me a dig in the ribs with his elbow.
  2. a cutting, sarcastic remark.
  3. an archaeological site undergoing excavation.
  4. digs, Informal. living quarters; lodgings.
Verb Phrases
  1. dig in,
    1. to dig trenches, as in order to defend a position in battle.
    2. to maintain one's opinion or position.
    3. to start eating.
  2. dig into, Informal. to attack, work, or apply oneself voraciously, vigorously, or energetically: to dig into one's work; to dig into a meal.
  3. dig out,
    1. to remove earth or debris from by digging.
    2. to hollow out by digging.
    3. to find by searching: to dig out facts for a term paper.
  4. dig up,
    1. to discover in the course of digging.
    2. to locate; find: to dig up information.

Origin of dig

1275–1325; Middle English diggen, perhaps representing an OE derivative of dīc ditch; Middle French diguer to dig (< Middle Dutch) is attested later and apparently not the immediate source
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for dig up


  1. NZ informal short for Digger (def. 1)


verb digs, digging or dug
  1. (when tr, often foll by up) to cut into, break up, and turn over or remove (earth, soil, etc), esp with a spade
  2. to form or excavate (a hole, tunnel, passage, etc) by digging, usually with an implement or (of animals) with feet, claws, etcto dig a tunnel
  3. (often foll by through) to make or force (one's way), esp by removing obstructionshe dug his way through the crowd
  4. (tr; often foll by out or up) to obtain by diggingto dig potatoes; to dig up treasure
  5. (tr; often foll by out or up) to find or discover by effort or searchingto dig out unexpected facts
  6. (tr; foll by in or into) to thrust or jab (a sharp instrument, weapon, etc); pokehe dug his spurs into the horse's side
  7. (tr; foll by in or into) to mix (compost, etc) with soil by digging
  8. (tr) informal to like, understand, or appreciate
  9. (intr) US slang to work hard, esp for an examination
  10. (intr) British informal to have lodgingsI dig in South London
  1. the act of digging
  2. a thrust or poke, esp in the ribs
  3. a cutting or sarcastic remark
  4. informal an archaeological excavation
See also dig in, digs

Word Origin for dig

C13 diggen, of uncertain origin
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

Word Origin and History for dig up



late 17c. as "a tool for digging," from dig (v.). Meaning "archaeological expedition" is from 1896. Meaning "thrust or poke" (as with an elbow) is from 1819; figurative sense of this is from 1840.



early 14c. (diggen), of uncertain origin, perhaps related to dike and ditch, either via Old French diguer (ultimately from a Germanic source), or directly from an unrecorded Old English word. Native words were deolfan (see delve), grafan (see grave (v.)).

Slang sense of "understand" first recorded 1934 in Black English, probably based on the notion of "excavate." A slightly varied sense of "appreciate" emerged 1939. Strong past participle dug appeared 16c., but is not etymological. Related: Digging.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with dig up

dig up


Search out, find, obtain, as in I'm sure I can dig up a few more supporters. [Mid-1800s]


dig up some dirt or the dirt. Find derogatory information about someone or something. For example, The editor assigned him to dig up all the dirt on the candidates. The slangy use of the noun dirt for “embarrassing or scandalous information” dates from about 1840, but this metaphoric expression is a century newer.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.