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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 excavated
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This set of rooms was excavated in a point of the cliff and extends completely through it as shown on the general plan, plate XXV.

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

    Pagan and Christian Rome Rodolfo Lanciani
  • The ruins of Mayan civilization, excavated once, were buried anew.

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

    The Clyde Mystery Andrew Lang
  • At breakfast, the conversation naturally turned upon the Chinese who had excavated these dwellings.

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

    The Faith of Islam Edward Sell
  • He had excavated the lower end of the shaft himself and he knew the strata of earth through which it passed.

    The Trail Boys on the Plains Jay Winthrop Allen
  • 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 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
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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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
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