Definition of exhume in English:


Pronunciation: /ɛksˈ(h)juːm//ɪɡˈzjuːm/


  • 1 Dig out (something buried, especially a corpse) from the ground.

    ‘the bodies were exhumed on the orders of a judge’
    • ‘In East Timor, a few harassed policemen have the task of exhuming the bodies and collecting what evidence they can.’
    • ‘I was telling the kids that there was always a controversy over whether Taylor had been poisoned and that people were so curious that they finally exhumed his body to check it for poisons.’
    • ‘Whenever a contractor digs into Berlin at a building site, he may dig up an unexploded bomb, exhume corpses, or liberate the fear trapped in a buried air raid shelter.’
    • ‘Treloar's body was exhumed in 1923 and buried at Mungerannie.’
    • ‘He was posthumously attainted of treason, and along with those of other deceased regicides, his corpse was exhumed and hanged, and his skull impaled in Westminster Hall.’
    • ‘Yesterday, Swindon police announced they were taking the unusual step of exhuming the body for a second post-mortem.’
    • ‘Collinson's body was exhumed earlier this month because an examination completed immediately after his death was not detailed enough, and had not been carried out by a Home Office-approved pathologist.’
    • ‘Azemi obtained a court order to exhume the body and arrested the brother.’
    • ‘The Pope was buried in the grottoes underneath St Peter's Basilica, on the site where Pope John XXIII had been laid to rest until his corpse was exhumed for public display upstairs in the basilica.’
    • ‘However, his body was exhumed in 2001 and examined by a state pathologist, who found the main impact to Barron's skull was from a moving object, ‘most likely a motor vehicle’.’
    • ‘As communal tension mounts, the district administration escorts the students out of the University to the nearby railway station before exhuming the carcass of the animal.’
    • ‘Sixteen years later, his body was exhumed and returned to France, where it was eventually laid to rest in the Church of St. Germain-des-Pres.’
    • ‘After Toma's daughter complained, they arrested the men and charged them with illegally exhuming his corpse.’
    • ‘Detectives have used DNA evidence to name a nightclub bouncer whose body was exhumed last month as the likely rapist and killer of three teenage girls almost 30 years ago.’
    • ‘I had already seen some photographs of the corpses being exhumed and reburied, and of the cemetery being built.’
    • ‘Beneath a white tent, men in green forensic suits began the arduous task of exhuming her body.’
    • ‘Seven years later, he exhumed her corpse to rescue the sheaf of poems that, in a Romantic fit, he had buried with her.’
    • ‘As a penalty, his corpse was exhumed and beheaded.’
    • ‘As part of the evidence gathering process, they will ask Defra officials to exhume the carcasses of cows buried in October 2000-four months before the first case of foot-and-mouth was detected.’
    disinter, dig up, unearth, bring out of the ground
    disentomb, unbury, ungrave
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Geology Expose (a land surface) that was formerly buried.
      ‘various landforms have been exhumed from beneath a covering of Triassic sediments’
      • ‘The rocks exposed in the central Aegean region, in the area of the Cyclades, are generally Alpine metamorphic rocks and Miocene granites, which were unroofed by extension and erosion, being exhumed by the end of the Miocene.’
      • ‘The metamorphic core complex is thus formed as mid-crustal rocks are exhumed by tectonic unroofing in an extensional setting.’
      • ‘Is the whole crustal section exhumed, or is only part of the subducted crust exhumed?’
      • ‘However, it is possible that this effect may be found wherever Mesozoic faults are exhumed to the sea bed or surface, and exhumation data measured in adjacent fault blocks should be projected across these faults with some circumspection.’
      • ‘These features probably form in the shallow subsurface and are exhumed by submarine erosion.’


Late Middle English: from medieval Latin exhumare, from ex- out of + humus ground.