Definition of excavate in English:



[with object]
  • 1Make (a hole or channel) by digging.

    ‘the cheapest way of doing this was to excavate a long trench’
    • ‘This had been built several years ago, when the drain tile went in, by excavating a hole and building the brick catch basin in the hole.’
    • ‘The massive females drag themselves well up beyond the high-tide mark and excavate a hole with their rear flippers.’
    • ‘We excavate a hole, put our tent inside it, and start winter camping for a few days.’
    • ‘It then backed up a bit and repeated the procedure once more, excavating another hole next to the first one, and then one more after that.’
    • ‘It is common knowledge that when a hole is excavated, and then refilled with soil, settling can occur at the site.’
    • ‘Add to that a bus tour of the quarry where political prisoners excavated limestone and dug themselves a privy, and the beach where those who are now the country's leaders gathered kelp, and the value is beyond question.’
    • ‘Each of six trenches being excavated simultaneously had its own sieve in operation.’
    • ‘Once the street was excavated to the proper depth, a thick concrete base was poured.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, a tunnel is being excavated so that guests won't have to bother themselves crossing the main road to get to the golf course.’
    • ‘Apart from cleaning out existing sites, White Paws also excavated new holes wherever the cover was good and the ground soft.’
    • ‘I settle into a large sandy hole previously excavated by a turtle.’
    • ‘A newly excavated shallow pond has created greater surface water for wetland wildlife.’
    • ‘In their natural state wombats excavate large burrows where they will generally spend the day, coming out in the evening to feed.’
    • ‘I made an abortive attempt to excavate a burrow today and catch one.’
    • ‘They excavate burrows in soil or use natural rock crevices, or they may use old burrows.’
    • ‘Over a number of weeks a trench was excavated in the river bed on each side of the estuary.’
    • ‘Cane rats also are good diggers and excavate shallow burrows as shelters.’
    • ‘The bottom of the garden has been looking literally like a bombsite for some time, while we have been moving the patio and excavating a hole for the bog garden.’
    • ‘There were no tools found in the churchyard so it is not yet clear how the hole was excavated and officers are not aware of any history of vandalism at St Martin's.’
    • ‘At least two of them have developed blades that allow you to use a tooth bucket for more than excavating a hole or digging a trench.’
    • ‘The toad doesn't really need us to make him a home, both the spadefoot and Colorado river toad can excavate burrows almost three feet deep.’
    dig, dig out, hollow out, scoop out, gouge, cut out, bore, burrow, tunnel, sink
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Dig out material from (the ground)
      ‘the ground was largely excavated by hand’
      • ‘The poor quality ground is being excavated adjacent to Crossflatts station and is being replaced with material capable of supporting the road.’
      • ‘Mr Newman reckons they will be able to learn more about the site from the data before the ground itself is finally excavated.’
      • ‘On Wednesday afternoon the Environment Service decided to stop excavating the sports ground embankment where the suspect soil is located until Dr Jenkins had an opportunity to inspect the site.’
      • ‘With the help of the county team, the society has been excavating the grounds of the Grade II-listed building on the banks of the River Chelmer, once a major medieval religious centre.’
      • ‘The Dip site will be excavated and contaminated material put in a lined cell, before a tennis court is built on top to permanently seal the site.’
      • ‘They've excavated the grounds for the new hospital, which should be open in about three years.’
      • ‘The total quantity of ground to be excavated is 125,000 cubic yards.’
      • ‘In all, about 28 cubic metres of material, weighing in excess of 40 tonnes, was excavated, all by hand.’
      • ‘However, earlier this week Bloor put up temporary buildings on the site, started excavating the ground and moved building materials in.’
      • ‘Thirdly, we disagree with Cope that we have necessarily overestimated the volume of material that was excavated and, hence, the amount of flank uplift.’
      • ‘The ground excavated for the foundations was shoved into the Hudson river and used to create Battery Park, a green space facing Staten Island that was yesterday swamped beneath the shattered towers.’
      • ‘That ground was largely excavated down to bed - rock to provide adequate support for the pillars that support this upper deck.’
      • ‘It is now hoped to use 100,000 tonnes of material, to be excavated during the construction of a new pier in Cromane, for building up embankments in the area.’
    2. 1.2 Extract (material) from the ground by digging.
      ‘a large amount of gravel would be excavated to form the channel’
      • ‘Soil texture won't change unless you literally excavate your soil and replace it.’
      • ‘With a shovel, excavate soil to create a level planting base.’
      • ‘Then it's off to the shores where the material excavated from the construction of subways and skyscraper was piled along the edge of the island.’
      • ‘The group met at the Avalon Inn and the first port of call was to Delaney's Upperhills to see how the raw material was excavated for Ormonde Brick.’
      • ‘I could say that the ground was soft enough to be excavated to an even greater depth using a spade only.’
      • ‘Scarlet macaws, blue and gold macaws, and hosts of smaller birds perch together in their hundreds to excavate the best clay layer along a riverbank.’
      • ‘The company took a portable extraction plant down to the spit and excavated the ash from the lakebed for some months.’
      • ‘These are people working with hoses and shorthandled shovels and picks, and then they excavate all of that burning material and they just keep moving around the perimeter.’
      • ‘James inefectually tried to excavate a droplet of water from his ear.’
      • ‘They're used in tight spaces to excavate water, sewer, and gas lines; to install septic tanks; and to handle landscaping and loading tasks, among other uses.’
      • ‘They've also had problems with Intergen (the firm that wants to excavate underground gas caverns near Aldbrough).’
      • ‘Wheel loaders offer the best bet for contractors who need to excavate rock, minerals, and soil or to load and carry materials.’
      • ‘In the area near Shepherd's Island, extensive regions of the clay are excavated by fish in the late summer and fall, when the clay is rich with large Axarus larvae.’
      • ‘Then, with the distal part of the tube anchored in a point at the base of the probe, it most likely moved most of the upper part of the tube by laterally excavating the sediments and backfilling the original tube behind.’
      • ‘To do this, a chalk mine was excavated to provide raw material for road foundations and plasterwork in the houses.’
      • ‘TV bosses, believed to be from the US arm of the station, have contacted the NUM seeking permission to excavate the grounds.’
  • 2Remove earth carefully from (an area) in order to find buried remains.

    ‘the site was excavated in 1975’
    • ‘Pickton was arrested last year and his committal hearing resumes on June 30 after a recess, while police continue excavating the grounds of his 4,5-hectare farm.’
    • ‘Lt Cmdr Chartier lead a team of five army, navy and air force forensic and archaeological personnel to the island on August 24 to excavate an area believed to be the sailor's resting place.’
    • ‘Now archaeologists excavating a development site at the Kilima Hotel, on Holgate Road, have discovered a human skeleton wearing hob-nail boots.’
    • ‘Any excavated objects must be recorded, documented in published materials, and moved to new locations if necessary.’
    • ‘Archaeologists set off for the place and explored and excavated the area to find out more about the gold and silver utensils.’
    • ‘A group of Japanese archeologists plans to excavate an archaeological site in central Afghanistan that may have been an important center of Buddhism.’
    • ‘Lynn will receive training so she can excavate sites, remove fossils and artifacts, and carefully map the finds.’
    • ‘The entire root systems for all 41 plants in the sealed room were carefully excavated on 25-26 Mar.2002.’
    • ‘Together with the workers, they used spiders and excavated the ammunition, moving it to a safe place.’
    • ‘Under a vast clear plastic shelter, green lawns are being eaten away by an expanding quarry as archaeologist Klaus Dreger excavates the site for ancient ruins believed to have underlain the 13 th century church.’
    • ‘Mrs Rodgers, and her late husband Jimmy, lived in 41 Rodney Drive, diagonally across from the two houses where the police excavated ground floors and back gardens.’
    • ‘Years ago, they excavated this area at the base of the bridge and found evidence that human beings found shelter here 12,000 years ago.’
    • ‘In the last five years, the Richland Archaeological Project has excavated several sites in what is called the Richland complex.’
    • ‘Archaeologists excavating the site at Ilminster have identified the intricate, coloured stone floor as stemming from the Cirencester-based Corinian school.’
    • ‘Now, archaeologist A.K. Sharma is excavating the area that is believed to be the palace of Balaarjuna.’
    • ‘The team have also been excavating areas of the site that could not be saved from the sea and, in the course of their excavations, came across three burials lying next to the Priory church.’
    • ‘Few plant remains have been recovered from any of the previously excavated sites, including the Millville type site east of Prairie du Chien along the Wisconsin River.’
    • ‘All of these archaeological sites would need to be excavated before ground could be broken for that part of the M3.’
    • ‘In this year an amateur archaeologist carefully excavated the original site of the house and located the chimney foundation (Robbins).’
    • ‘Geraldton City Council has discovered asbestos behind its Civic Centre and has begun excavating the area to remove the dangerous material.’
    1. 2.1 Reveal or extract (buried remains) while excavating an area.
      ‘clothing and weapons were excavated from the burial site’
      • ‘He also presents Meet The Ancestors in which excavated human remains are given a face and a life story through modern scientific techniques.’
      • ‘The seven monolithic churches were excavated out of the ground and are surrounded by trenches and courtyards with graves and hermit cells cut into the inner cliff face.’
      • ‘Geoff Arnott, 26, and Adam Wright, 32, are seeking permission to excavate the remains of the 50-tonne plane which has been found on private land near Easingwold.’
      • ‘Some years later he was able to locate and begin excavating the remains of Belize's most substantial pirate settlement.’
      • ‘Curses were routinely used as a deterrent against tomb raiders in ancient Egypt, as the Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter discovered when excavating Tutankhamun's burial chamber.’
      • ‘Nothing so grandiose has been confirmed by actual or excavated remains of religious architecture.’
      • ‘A small amount of animal remains was excavated.’
      • ‘In 1784, he excavated a burial mound on his estate in Virginia in order to establish its age and cultural affinities.’
      • ‘Archaeologists are excavating the remains of an important 17th century iron-smelting furnace that was almost lost forever.’
      • ‘At Repton in Derbyshire, a few burials were excavated around the crypt of St Wystan's church.’
      • ‘When earth-moving works were carried out on the slopes of Mont Boron to the north-west of the Grotte, a Lower Palaeolithic encampment was revealed and excavated.’
      • ‘So that the Tower Street edge is well defined, for instance, the footings of the Victorian prison walls which survive below ground could be excavated and exposed.’
      • ‘Since the eighteenth century, it has been possible not only to excavate the remarkable remains beneath the lava flows, but also to appropriate the amazing findings concerning Roman bourgeois life and decoration into modernity.’
      • ‘A team from the Oxford Archaeological Unit was engaged to excavate and reveal the archaeology for a public audience.’
      • ‘In six weeks, they excavated the remains of a home, which had been carbonized from the extreme heat of the volcanic eruption.’
      • ‘In 1984 his bones were painstakingly excavated to reveal a species on the brink of becoming human.’
      • ‘Archaeologists first began excavating the remains of a 1,000-year-old castle located on the site in 1936.’
      • ‘Archaeologists excavated the remains of 23 men, women and infants from the tombs.’
      • ‘The great mud brick fortresses that preceded the mud brick churches and monasteries of the Christian era could not be moved; many were excavated and recorded in detail at this time.’
      • ‘Ever since the 3000-seat amphitheatre was excavated to reveal room for 8000, archaeologists are continually surprised by what they find.’
      unearth, dig up, bring out of the ground, bring to the surface, uncover, reveal
      View synonyms


Late 16th century: from Latin excavat- ‘hollowed out’, from the verb excavare, from ex- ‘out’ + cavare ‘make or become hollow’ (from cavus ‘hollow’).