verb (used with object), ex·ca·vat·ed, ex·ca·vat·ing.

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.
to make (a hole, tunnel, etc.) by removing material.
to dig or scoop out (earth, sand, etc.).
to expose or lay bare by or as if by digging; unearth: to excavate an ancient city.

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for excavated

Contemporary Examples of excavated

  • Today, I took in the whole giant dig, with hundreds of the soldiers on view and thousands more waiting to be excavated.

    The Daily Beast logo
    To Serve and Protect

    Blake Gopnik

    September 27, 2012

  • The land was developed for homes in 1974, but residents were relocated while the area was excavated and rebuilt in 1988.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Our Most Polluted States

    The Daily Beast

    May 19, 2010

Historical Examples of excavated

  • 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



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

Word Origin for excavate

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper