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[eks-kuh-veyt] /ˈɛks kəˌveɪt/
verb (used with object), excavated, excavating.
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 forms
reexcavate, verb (used with object), reexcavated, reexcavating.
unexcavated, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for excavate
  • Those who plan to plant peonies this fall can excavate a few planting holes ahead of time.
  • Usually, they'll excavate a cavity in an old snag, or use a natural cavity in the same sort of structure.
  • There are no plans now to excavate any more remains, and those that have been excavated will be re-buried after study.
  • Researchers should locate these fossil poachers and fund them to excavate.
  • My requests for a ladder to excavate deeper were denied.
  • Foraging birds excavate large, rectangular holes in trunks and logs.
  • After the team finished surveying, it took months to fence, excavate and level the site.
  • If you choose thinner bricks, say about two inches deep, you will not have to excavate that much.
  • He had been working at a site there for a few years and was looking for another place to excavate.
  • Kinkajous are nocturnal and will occupy or excavate tree cavities to sleep in during the day.
British Dictionary definitions for excavate


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 part: to excavate a tooth
to unearth (buried objects) methodically in an attempt to discover information about the past
Derived Forms
excavation, 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
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Word Origin and History for excavate

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
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