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See more synonyms for excavate on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), ex·ca·vat·ed, ex·ca·vat·ing.
  1. to make hollow by removing the inner part; make a hole or cavity in; form into a hollow, as by digging: The ground was excavated for a foundation.
  2. to make (a hole, tunnel, etc.) by removing material.
  3. to dig or scoop out (earth, sand, etc.).
  4. to expose or lay bare by or as if by digging; unearth: to excavate an ancient city.
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Origin of excavate

1590–1600; < Latin excavātus (past participle of excavāre to hollow out), equivalent to ex- ex-1 + cav(um) hollow, cave + -ātus -ate1
Related formsre·ex·ca·vate, verb (used with object), re·ex·ca·vat·ed, re·ex·ca·vat·ing.un·ex·ca·vat·ed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Examples from the Web for excavated

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Let this be as it may, we found nothing of any value in the agglomerate in which the Egyptians had excavated.


    Theodor Hertzka

  • The amphitheatre is still in existence, and was excavated in 1887.

    Pagan and Christian Rome

    Rodolfo Lanciani

  • To return to the site first found, the hill fort of Dunbuie, excavated in 1896.

  • If the ground is soft a small grave is excavated at the bottom of the larger one.

  • The walls and ceiling were rough and irregular; it was natural instead of excavated.

    The Cosmic Computer

    Henry Beam Piper

British Dictionary definitions for excavated


  1. to remove (soil, earth, etc) by digging; dig out
  2. to make (a hole, cavity, or tunnel) in (solid matter) by hollowing or removing the centre or inner partto excavate a tooth
  3. to unearth (buried objects) methodically in an attempt to discover information about the past
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Derived Formsexcavation, noun

Word Origin

C16: from Latin excavāre, from cavāre to make hollow, from cavus hollow
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 excavated



1590s, from Latin excavatus, past participle of excavare "to hollow out," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + cavare "to hollow, hollow out," from cavus "cave" (see cave (n.)). Related: Excavated; excavating.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper