Definition of dig in English:



  • 1[no object] Break up and move earth with a tool or machine, or with hands, paws, snout, etc.

    ‘the boar had been digging for roots’
    [with object] ‘she had to dig the garden’
    ‘authorities cause chaos by digging up roads’
    • ‘When your bulbs arrive, or you buy them from the garden center, gather everyone together, hand out garden tools and start digging.’
    • ‘The army ground that players used was dug up and replaced by a canal.’
    • ‘‘This had to be completed before any more capital works as the roads would simply have had to be dug up again,’ she said.’
    • ‘The ground should be dug over to loosen the earth.’
    • ‘Well, suddenly without any warning, a couple of weeks ago, men and machines arrived and started digging up the road and pavement and generally causing the usual traffic chaos.’
    • ‘He points to the countryside that has been dug up, blasted, landscaped to make way for some of the most beautiful resorts on the earth.’
    • ‘Winter is the best time to tackle those big projects in the garden such as digging up a new garden bed, putting in a garden arch or putting in a fish pond.’
    • ‘Gardeners digging up their borders for spring bulb planting are being urged to do their bit to help rescue the much-loved British bluebell.’
    • ‘Workmen digging up a front garden got a fright when they discovered an unexploded Second World War bomb.’
    • ‘But under the new regulations, firms which take too long to complete the job, or start digging up the road not long after another company has left, will face stiff sanctions.’
    • ‘Whatever we think about the truth or otherwise of this piece of ancient Irish history the story received a boost some years later, when men were digging up the soil along this area.’
    • ‘The report said the sheer number of people busy digging the earth makes the three graveyards appear to be mines, but what is being dug up are human bones and skeletons of people laid to rest many years ago.’
    • ‘The ground has been dug up all over to put up tents and huge screens for the programme starting Friday.’
    • ‘The roads, which had been dug up have become slushy.’
    • ‘But the surrounding land is being dug up by general contractors working for the employers' agents.’
    • ‘When I was a boy and I used to dig in our backyard, half mimicking my dog and half pretending to be an explorer, I used to say I was digging to China.’
    • ‘But the pigs are really great: they're extremely friendly creatures and love digging up the rough land.’
    • ‘But others complain that foxes are digging up their gardens, fouling their lawns, attacking their pets and ripping open their garbage bags.’
    • ‘The most recent piece of legislation in this area was the Telegraph Act of 1863 which had loose restrictions on digging up roads.’
    • ‘They have given up work and are digging up their gardens.’
    cultivate, till, harrow, plough, turn over, work, break up, spade
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[with object]Make (a hole, grave, etc.) by breaking up and moving earth.
      ‘he took a spade and dug a hole’
      ‘the newly dug grave’
      • ‘Then they dug the hole wider so that they could pull the statue out.’
      • ‘They also steal tulip and crocus bulbs from newly planted beds, dig holes in gardens to get at seeds and bury nuts, and gobble seed from bird feeders.’
      • ‘I was digging holes and calling them earthworks.’
      • ‘I grabbed a spade and frantically dug a hole in the garden, hoping like hell my flatmate wouldn't turn up during the process.’
      • ‘She watched anxiously out her daughter's bedroom window as Jack dug a three-foot hole in the backyard.’
      • ‘At one action project, participants dug holes to place signs at a new park.’
      • ‘Around 40,000 holes are dug each year in London's roads alone.’
      • ‘A few of the people on the community took his advice and dug the post holes and carted the timber to make the enormous trellises required to grow these fruit.’
      • ‘He digs holes in my flower beds, poops in my yard, and recently has decided to make my front flower bed his own personal bathroom.’
      • ‘In the underground cable-digging system, 2-3 holes are dug for every kilometre.’
      • ‘Here though, in the local graveyard, the sweat and the labour of the man who digs the grave seem even closer to the eternal.’
      • ‘When I die, a man will prepare my body for burial and dig my grave and again a male pastor will most likely conduct my funeral service and commit my body to the ground.’
      • ‘For even though the mother turtle carefully and craftily dug a hole, laid the eggs and then patted the sand down, they were found.’
      • ‘With the trowel, he dug a little hole, making it just deep enough that the grain sprout would still be able to push through the dirt on top of it.’
      • ‘We arrived to the clan cemetery and I watched as my uncles brought the casket to the newly dug hole and they lowered it in.’
      • ‘I've got other members of the family digging the graves.’
      • ‘Also use a spade anytime you want to dig a straight-sided hole.’
      • ‘He went out and bought a spade and began digging a grave.’
      • ‘They were forced to dig a hole in the grave to bury the statue.’
      • ‘Eventually, by digging foot holes in the ice with my ice pick, I was slowly able to crawl up to reach the summit where the sandstone ledge jutted out.’
      excavate, dig out, quarry, hollow out, scoop out, gouge out, cut, bore, tunnel, burrow, mine, channel
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    2. 1.2[with object]Extract from the ground by breaking up and moving earth.
      ‘they dug up fossils of an animal about the size of a turkey’
      • ‘Is it still there, waiting to be dug up like buried treasure?’
      • ‘The dogs from next door often burrow under the fence and into my garden digging up plants.’
      • ‘It's also worthwhile surrounding your pots and trays with netting (or prickly holly clippings) to prevent these rodents digging up the seeds.’
      • ‘Dahlias are best dug up and brought in when the foliage has been blacked by the first frosts, although warmer winters do give them a better chance of surviving in the garden.’
      • ‘I have got a plot reserved for myself at the foot of their graves, but I don't like the thought of them being dug up later, splitting up the family.’
      • ‘Spectacle is what lets us say that plants can be dug up and put in a place together (that the land and the process of growing are separate from the growth of the plant).’
      • ‘The movie ends with a harrowing scene of the father digging up his son's coffin, only to discover a piece of wood inside the box.’
      • ‘Rabbits who have taken up residence on the remains of a 14th century manor house in England are digging up fragments of a medieval glass window.’
      • ‘‘I've even had treasure in my court and coins which were found when a graveyard was being dug up,’ he said.’
      • ‘Piles of earth around the coffin showed it had recently been dug up, and it appears the decaying lid was smashed to get at the bones.’
      • ‘In fact archaeologists dig up things not people; and that's the whole point.’
      • ‘His best known line was that archaeologists dig up people not things.’
      • ‘The flute was dug up in a cave in the Swabian mountains in south-western Germany, and pieced back together again from 31 fragments.’
      • ‘Actually, the giant marine reptile whose remains have lain buried near Whitby for 185 million years and who was dug up last week doesn't actually have a name, yet.’
      • ‘The bones of legendary outlaw Robin Hood may have been dug up in the mid-18th Century, according to a history buff.’
      • ‘We must have been down there a hour and a half whilst the guide, an ex-miner showed us how coal was dug up in Victorian times right up to the mechanised way they do it nowadays.’
      • ‘The site preparation work has commenced which entails digging up and levelling some 40 million cubic metres of earth.’
      • ‘I will put a stone plaque over the place where we have reburied them so they are never dug up again.’
      • ‘Some flower thieves were fined just last month for digging up 300 quid's worth from a Norfolk garden.’
      unearth, dig up, pull up, grub up, root up, root out, bring to the surface, extract from the ground
      exhume, disinter, unearth, bring to the surface, bring out of the ground
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    3. 1.3(of a soldier) protect oneself by making a trench or similar ground defense.
      • ‘So they dug in and trench warfare lasted for the next 3 years.’
      • ‘An enemy that dug in to fight on the high ground would be an entirely different situation.’
      • ‘Eventually, they were forced to retreat, and moved north to the River Aisne where they dug in, setting the pattern of trench warfare for the next four years.’
      • ‘US intelligence estimates there are about 3,000 insurgents dug in behind defences and booby traps in the city of about 300,000 people.’
      • ‘Being in the studio is about digging in the trenches, rediscovering music and peeling off the layers to find out what it all means.’
      • ‘They were like soldiers in the trenches when they dug in to repel waves of attack when beating the Dutch 1-0 at Lansdowne Road in the qualifiers.’
      • ‘The English troops, mainly archers and foot soldiers, dug in behind wooden stakes between thickly wooded ground.’
      • ‘They began to dig in while First Brigade moved in behind as reserve.’
      • ‘Today the soldiers are dug in behind sandbags and pickup trucks with mounted machine guns patrol the streets.’
      • ‘The soldiers were dug in on both sides of the bridge from where they mounted a deafening defence using tanks, artillery and RPGs.’
      • ‘Fighting against well dug in troops and defences that had been prepared years in advance they clawed their way over the dunes and onto the coastlines and into the hedgerows.’
      • ‘He says about 15,000 soldiers are dug in, ready to defend the city.’
      • ‘In an attack map, success depends on a quick strike into the enemy defences before they become too dug in.’
      • ‘Exhausted by their previous encounters, both armies dug in for battles that were precursors to the trench warfare of World War I.’
      • ‘On June 26, the battalion had moved up and begun to dig in to a new position when the tell-tale sound of an incoming shell was heard.’
      • ‘Rather than give up the territory which they already held, the Germans dug in to protect themselves from the guns of the advancing Allies.’
      • ‘Everywhere she looked, Sara saw soldiers hard at work, mostly digging in.’
    4. 1.4informal [in imperative]Used to encourage someone to start eating with gusto and have as much as they want.
      ‘put the sausage on top of the polenta; then dig in’
      • ‘By now the guests have started to hover around the buffet and Ismail, who is showing discreet signs of kitchen-fatigue, encourages all to dig in.’
      • ‘Scoop it out onto a plate and dig in.’
      • ‘My mom said: ‘grab a plate and dig in.’’
      • ‘Go on, now, fill up your plate and dig in.’
    5. 1.5[with object]Push or poke something in or into.
      ‘he dug his hands into his pockets’
      • ‘The hand on her shoulder tightened, each digit digging sharply into her skin.’
      • ‘Laying on her stomach, she dug her nails into the ice, pushing as best she could forward with her soaked stocking feet.’
      • ‘She sat still for a few seconds as Gabby dug a sharply edged eyeliner pencil into her top eyelid.’
      • ‘I dug my hands in further, pushing, cursing at the stupidity.’
      • ‘Ignoring the pain, Matt dug his hands into the floor and shards, pushing himself upward and sprinting after the assassin.’
      • ‘He dug his hands into his pockets, pushed himself off the wall.’
      • ‘Sighing, she dug her feet in and began pushing again, struggling to pass over all the grass while cutting around the ant piles that dotted the yard.’
      • ‘I huffed to myself, and dug my spoon back into the ice cream, and shoved an even larger than before scoop into my mouth.’
      • ‘As you push the weight back up, dig your shoulders into the bench and keep your glutes on it.’
      • ‘When he teased me, but in a way that didn't deserve a truly biting retort, I pushed his chest lightly, or dug a finger into his waist.’
      • ‘He pushed my foot hard, and I screamed, digging my fingernails into his arm.’
      • ‘I dug my heels in, leaned forward, and shoved off with my legs at the same time I pushed out hard with my arms.’
      • ‘He dug his feet in to gain his balance and pushed his rear-end up first.’
      • ‘He dug his hands deeper into his pockets and pushed his house keys into his palm between the thumb and his finger.’
      • ‘Watching him go, I dug my elbow into Chase, pushing him away from me.’
      • ‘Juanita chose that moment to dig her razor sharp long nails into my left arm as Rachel grabbed the right and Teresa shoved me right into a wall.’
      • ‘Taking off her headphones, she shoved her cd player in her purse and dug her hands into the pocket of her black hoodie.’
      • ‘I dug my fingers into his side, poking him between his ribs.’
      • ‘She dug her fork in and shoved it in her mouth, not looking at what it was, and not caring.’
      • ‘Ryan pushed his hands deeper into his pocket, digging his nails in his palms to assure himself he was awake.’
      poke, prod, jab, stab, shove, ram, push, thrust, drive, nudge
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    6. 1.6[with object]Excavate (an archaeological site)
      ‘apart from digging a site, recording evidence is important’
      • ‘On one of the three mounds on the machair there is Iron Age and Pictish pottery, and this summer we will dig the site to see if there was a sequence of farms in those periods.’
      • ‘It was also unusual, he added, to be digging a site as recent as the 1880s for the express purpose of adding to local knowledge.’
      • ‘We may dig, study, and scrutinize every part of Stonehenge, but we will never know all of the secrets of the ancient megalith known as Stonehenge.’
      • ‘He said that recognising that this might be part of an ancient human, he had continued to dig at the site and collected more pieces of skull.’
      • ‘It may seem, from our news pages, that British archaeologists are digging an endless supply of good sites.’
      • ‘Hundreds of such bottles were recovered from a site being dug for construction of a Guest House for the Bangalore District Police.’
      • ‘Close attention had to be paid to stratification while digging, and his excavation assistants had to be properly trained.’
      • ‘No convincing pyre sites were found, possibly because of the way the site was dug.’
      • ‘Just digging the site was an achievement in itself, he says.’
      • ‘Archaeologists digging in Jerusalem uncovered a piece of pottery inscribed with the name Goliath.’
      • ‘The experts moved on to the site on Monday last week and began digging in search of any historical remains.’
      • ‘Two double pit alignments were dug, one east of the northern henge, the other west of the southern.’
    7. 1.7[with object]Bring out something that is hidden or has been stored for a long time.
      ‘they dug out last year's notes’
      • ‘If you want to spend a few moments with the big cheese himself, load your camera, dig out a pen, and get in line here.’
      • ‘Let me dig out a pen.’
      • ‘For starters, where in the wide world of Wall Street are they going to dig up the investors to pony up the capital for yet another national wireless network?’
      • ‘I could dig out old journals and search but that's an activity fraught with danger.’
      • ‘Eventually, his research team dug up the English translation and the original story in Chinese and figured out what was going on.’
      • ‘The girls on the next to the back pew would inevitably dig out some gum or candy and share with the guys on the back pew.’
      • ‘Manchester Royal Infirmary, which is losing 1,000 pairs of crutches a year, is hoping former patients will dig them out of the loft, garage or garden shed and bring them back - no questions asked.’
      • ‘Releasing my now trembling hand, she searched through her black purse, digging out a lighter and pack of cigarettes.’
      • ‘So, dig out your latest bank statement, check it carefully and cancel the direct debits and standing orders that you don't need any more.’
      uncover, unearth, dredge up, root out, hunt out, ferret out, nose out, sniff out, track down, extricate, turn up, come across, discover, detect, reveal, bring to light, bring into the open, expose
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    8. 1.8informal Find money from (somewhere)
      ‘members have to dig deep into their pockets’
      • ‘Well, how deeply would you dig into your pocket for the legacy of one of the most beloved composers of all time.’
      • ‘Dig into your pockets as deeply as you can and give.’
      • ‘The Medicare trustees now say the system will have to start digging into its trust fund now.’
      • ‘What method encourages you to dig into your pockets?’
      • ‘By the way, here's my birthday wish, if you felt like digging into your pockets today.’
      • ‘We dug into the finances of football, and especially football in the Scottish SecondDivision.’
      • ‘They get carried away by the apparent bargains and dig deep into their pockets.’
      • ‘Find out just how deep you'll have to dig into your pockets if you want to buy a new house.’
    9. 1.9Search or rummage in a specified place.
      ‘Catherine dug into her handbag and produced her card’
      • ‘They dug through their handbags for suitable implements to rescue them.’
      • ‘He saw the look but merely knelt and dug into his pack, pulling out what looked to be a very sharp knife.’
      • ‘Deciding to steer clear of the bed for a bit, Christopher went over to one of his bags and began to dig through it, searching for his journal and pen.’
      • ‘Barry dug through his pockets in search of the message.’
      • ‘He dug around for a few seconds in search of his cell-phone, but eventually gave up.’
      • ‘When the search engine visitor submits their query, the search engine digs through its database to give the final listing that is displayed on the results page.’
      • ‘Emily dug through the drawer, quickly searching for a black sock.’
      • ‘She dug through her backpack, desperately searching for the water pouch she knew she had with her.’
      • ‘I dug through my pockets, searching frantically for it, and I hadn't lost it.’
      • ‘It does the search of the search engines for you, digging through ten search engines to generate your results.’
      • ‘I dug around in it, searching for my CDs, but I couldn't find them.’
      • ‘I was attending the funeral of a friend's father last year and a woman who was seated in the church in front of me started digging frantically in her handbag as her cell started ringing.’
      • ‘Again she said his name not expecting an answer, as she dug though his clothes and searched the room.’
      • ‘Jason dug into one of the pouches on his belt and took out a small camera and began to take pictures.’
      • ‘Two minutes later, she dug into the back of her closet and pulled out a large backpack.’
      • ‘She steeled herself for a long trip, dug into her bag, pulled out a datapad and began to read.’
      • ‘I dug into the case and flipped out a photo and the printed letter that went with it.’
      • ‘Unzipping the bag, she dug through the contents until she found what she was searching for.’
      • ‘After deciding that all signs of the injury were well hidden she began digging through the closet yet again in search of a shirt.’
      • ‘So here we are, digging through my closet in search of something blue.’
    10. 1.10Engage in research; conduct an investigation.
      ‘a professional digging for information’
      ‘he had no compunction about digging into her private affairs’
      • ‘The program allows participants to dig deeper and engage in more robust conversations than in programs where attendees hail from different fields.’
      • ‘But it's a debate worth engaging in - especially today as marketers dig deeper into what drives consumer behavior.’
      • ‘Any researcher who has dug hard to find ‘the truth’ knows that it is rarely found in the media.’
      • ‘She digs deeper in her investigation, trying to get at the shared assumptions which underlie her subjects' diverse approaches to choosing and remaining with a partner.’
      • ‘But investigators are determined to dig until they find the answer.’
      • ‘His fingers went down to the keyboard and began to fly over it as he started to dig deeper and investigate it some more.’
      • ‘You have the qualification to be a top investigator or researcher as you doggedly dig out the facts of whatever matter you are pursuing.’
      • ‘It is a challenge to historians of American economic development to dig more deeply and more broadly in future research.’
      • ‘The researchers kept digging and uncovered one of the most complete skeletons ever found from this time period, the middle Miocene epoch.’
      • ‘Celebrities are easy, but on a slow week the researchers have to dig, and they often find gold.’
      • ‘To reach its conclusions, the investigative committee had to do a bit of digging.’
      • ‘However, it always pays to dig deeper into a company's background before you invest to be aware of any inherent risks.’
      • ‘Journalists should dig deeper when researchers claim a treatment is effective, said the doctor.’
      • ‘It is when actions do not fit the character that the investigator starts to dig a little harder.’
      • ‘With a natural talent for research, the Scorpio child wants to dig to the bottom of everything.’
      • ‘It implores the police to have a third eye when investigating such cases by digging deeper and bringing the culprits to book.’
      • ‘As investigators started digging the family member that he was living with lied to them about him staying there.’
      • ‘If the investigator didn't dig hard enough and fast enough, the whole issue would collapse as the walls caved in on him.’
      • ‘Like most stores of its kind, you have to search and dig to find a steal.’
      • ‘As host, his job was to conduct an interesting conversation rather than dig for historical footnotes.’
      delve, probe, search, enquire, look
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    11. 1.11[with object]Discover information after a search or investigation.
      ‘have you dug up any information on the captain?’
      • ‘The time had been spent going over the information that the research team had managed to dig up, and comparing that with what Sam and Mark already knew.’
      • ‘His investigation digs up a number of dirty little secrets, as he attempts to get to the bottom of the things.’
      • ‘They called on their own, dug this out through investigative journalism.’
      • ‘This allows investors to search out users with similar investment strategies, and to dig up more information about them and their stocks before a trade.’
      • ‘Why do you need to dig up more information?’
      • ‘Investigators can be hired to try to dig up information about jurors, their political affiliations, where they live, what their hobbies and interests are.’
      • ‘By ‘research’ I only meant that you had dug the information up, not that you were the author.’
      • ‘And while you may have forgotten about something you have written -- a potential employer may dig up something juicy to throw you off in an interview.’
      • ‘It took four years and several separate trips to the heart of darkness to dig up enough research to support this theory.’
      • ‘He was the investigator of the group and could dig out facts others did not have the patience to find.’
  • 2informal [with object] Like, appreciate, or understand.

    ‘I really dig heavy rock’
    • ‘Like I said in a previous review, I totally dig these 60s influenced garage rock bands.’
    • ‘Some melodies may be too bland for those who dig their rock with more pop.’
    • ‘What if someday Canadians decide they don't dig what the US is up to?’
    • ‘He dug them for their rock 'n' roll spirit, they dug him for his; fate will always find a way, and now it's love, right?’
    • ‘Don't even start on how there are some chicks who dig them.’
    • ‘Chicks definitely dig dudes who are able to interact with society in a non-violent manner.’
    • ‘We have fought hundreds of hours on that map and I really dig the steep rocks you can jump out from into the frozen river.’
    • ‘If you dig scratchy lead guitars and appreciate real good Hard Rock, that has come through a lot of neo-influences, then this album is for you.’
    • ‘At the same time, there was a girl named Natacat in Chicoutimi who dug garage rock.’
    • ‘Now that the fake holidays have made me understand the holiday cheer a little bit, I can dig some of the real ones, like Halloween or New Years.’
    • ‘"Anyone can go there and dig what I'm playing, I think, " he says.’
    • ‘Like I said, it took me by surprise and I would recommend it to anyone who currently digs the rock thing, even if it's too heavy at times.’


  • 1[in singular] An act or spell of digging.

    ‘a thorough dig of the whole plot’
    • ‘Added to this is the £20,000 cost of delays because of the dig.’
    • ‘The first dig of Lot B1 was made on Wednesday, as part of the project to improve and expand the airport.’
    • ‘I also had a bit of a dig in the garden, clearing some weeds and replanting some of the shrubs that I had moved into pots for winter.’
    • ‘The remains of 10 individual houses have so far been uncovered and it looks as if more could be found as the dig continues.’
    • ‘The resources required for a digging project need to be appropriate to the specific circumstances of the dig.’
    • ‘He said the parents of the two boys had expressed relief at the ending of the dig, which began on Monday.’
    • ‘An exploratory dig on Charles Street pay and display car park, the proposed library site, has uncovered evidence of dwellings dating back to the early Middle Ages.’
    • ‘Speaking at the scene of the dig, the Detective said the witness had reported a sighting of both boys on the morning of their disappearance.’
    • ‘We still have to decide if we are doing the big dig next year to improve the drainage around the house.’
    • ‘It is a time for a drive in the country, a dig in the garden, a football game or a family dinner.’
    • ‘We're not against the motorway and we're not insisting that the dig go on indefinitely, but we want it done properly, with due regard for the importance of this site.’
    1. 1.1An archaeological excavation.
      • ‘All the dig revealed was natural chalk and flint glacial deposits, the archaeologist said.’
      • ‘The children have had their own section of the dig and have uncovered a cobbled courtyard that stretches over 100 sq metres as well as animal bones and pottery.’
      • ‘Three other artifacts found in the dig initially seemed at odds with a trash pit scenario.’
      • ‘But as a result of the find, the dig has been widened to see if the land contains any more artefacts.’
      • ‘This week the dig finished and the remains, some dating back as far as the sixth century, are in Preston awaiting analysis.’
      • ‘The training dig, which will last until September 5, is on the site of the mediaeval hospital of St Leonard's.’
      • ‘About 100 volunteers, both young and old, attended the two-week dig.’
      • ‘The dig has uncovered the remains of a hut circle and unearthed lots of pottery, including Roman samianware and 17th century German ballamineware.’
      • ‘When an archaeological dig takes place, the position of each ‘find’ is carefully recorded on a plan of the area.’
      • ‘A better project hypothesis would have been to uncover and analyze the findings of the dig, period.’
      • ‘The same dig also uncovered a silver decorated Roman cavalry helmet, the only one ever found in England.’
      • ‘The dig has already uncovered a whet stone, which would have been used for sharpening knives, and a piece of a pottery jug dated back to at least the 17th century.’
      • ‘During a new dig, he has now discovered a rare Viking buckle with a ‘wonderful runic design’ dating back to the 10th century.’
      • ‘But a spokeswoman for the company said it was happy, regardless, to let the dig continue until its natural conclusion.’
      • ‘But time is running out for the dig which is scheduled to finish by February 14 when developers move on to the site…’
      • ‘About 700 trainees have worked at the four-year dig, and 65,000 visitors have come to watch the work in progress.’
      • ‘The artefacts unearthed have intrigued university experts so much that they hope to continue the dig next year.’
      • ‘Do you think I could look around the dig for a while?’
      • ‘We found a grinding wheel during the dig, so one theory is that the water may have been pumped from the river through the culvert to power the machinery.’
      • ‘That was when one of the archaeologists who was part of the dig stepped forward.’
  • 2A push or poke with one's elbow, finger, etc.

    ‘Ginnie gave her sister a dig in the ribs’
    • ‘All three took the digs, the elbows, the studs-up tackles and the raking down the shins and moved on.’
    • ‘He didn't seem to mind making cracks likely to earn him a dig in the ribs from his fiancée, Chanelle, whom he subsequently married.’
    • ‘My remark provoked a loud laugh from the guide, a clap on the shoulder and a dig in the ribs, which I regarded as so many tributes to my skill in theological dialectic.’
    • ‘A dig in the ribs from my puritanical brother told me when I was going too far.’
    • ‘Martina - not even interrupting her conversation with Julie, but somehow aware of Mike's derogatory comments - digs her elbow into his side.’
    • ‘In the first line-out he gave me a dig in the ribs, pinched my ball and waltzed off down the field with no one the wiser.’
    • ‘Scott spluttered, earning himself a sharp dig in the ribs from Josh.’
    poke, prod, jab, stab, shove, push, nudge, elbow
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1informal A remark intended to mock or criticize.
      ‘this was a cruel dig at Jenny’
      • ‘Unintentionally or not, it even takes a dig at humans.’
      • ‘It savages venal music industry poseurs and also takes a dig at the clash between ‘art’ and pop culture.’
      • ‘Having said all that, I can't pretend to agree with every policy of the two great powers mentioned above and will continue to have a dig at them as the need arises.’
      • ‘Was he also taking a sly dig at the Canadian pretense that we don't engage in American dreaming?’
      • ‘While criticising communal parties, he had a dig at the Congress, saying that people know the aims and objectives of communal forces.’
      • ‘Instead, this is a charming memoir of a Caribbean childhood, a celebration of the good things in life, and a gentle dig at a set of values that are long gone and unlamented.’
      • ‘It was a nasty dig about a girl's looks when she starts to spout unpopular opinions.’
      • ‘He made a pointed dig at France, Germany and Belgium.’
      • ‘He followed that with a dig at ‘damaging media coverage that is already so badly affecting our overseas markets and day visitors’.’
      • ‘There is, finally, the standard dig at political-correctness.’
      • ‘I'm allowing you unregulated access to take digs at me and my opinions.’
      • ‘Both times it's over something apparently insignificant that - I'm later told by someone at Island - Heidi interprets as a dig at her and her background.’
      • ‘The show also takes a dig at current Anglo-American relations.’
      • ‘The Flemish version of the news item has a dig at Dutch cuisine, because they only got two 2-star restaurants.’
      • ‘Rather than having a dig at the council and its street sweepers, why not raise a litter awareness campaign aimed at tourists who visit our city and get off our backs for a change.’
      • ‘His statement was a clear dig at the negative reaction to his claim last weekend that a gay clique in the Democratic Alliance was behind sexual harassment allegations against him.’
      • ‘What's more, he is pretty sly in getting in his dig at Christianity for its highly unlikely belief in the virgin birth.’
      • ‘I even had someone come up to me in the street and tell me I had let the country down, after TV commentators had a dig at me.’
      • ‘A message inside some bags and backpacks takes a dig at an unidentified president - but you have to know the secret language to understand it.’
      • ‘Most hilarious moments came when poets took a dig at politicians.’
      snide remark, cutting remark, jibe, jeer, taunt, sneer, insult, barb, slur, slight, affront, insinuation
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  • dig up dirt

    • informal Discover and reveal damaging information about someone.

      • ‘Is this the press in Whitewater mode, determined to dig up dirt about long-ago presidential business dealings?’
      • ‘If it were not for the Prime Minister's sanction, there would be no group to dig up dirt if it can be found; or invent it if not.’
      • ‘Others have dug up dirt on management, sometimes pointing to tax evasion or bogus financial statements.’
      • ‘He hired a private eye to dig up dirt on this mother.’
      • ‘People are always trying to dig up dirt, but there's really nothing to hide - we have a very good, friendly relationship.’
      • ‘Media outlets who want to dig up dirt in this area need to be wary that there are hordes of lawyers waiting to sue on this.’
      • ‘Why bother digging up dirt on anyone when someone is going to turn around and dig up darker and chunkier dirt in the next minute?’
      • ‘‘Unless someone digs up dirt on him, it's a pretty clean confirmation,’ says one observer.’
      • ‘When it started to dig up dirt on the Liberals, it was quickly put to silence.’
      • ‘Well, it turns out that he's actually an FBI agent who's working on digging up dirt about me.’
  • dig oneself into a hole (or dig a hole for oneself)

    • Get oneself into an awkward or restrictive situation.

      • ‘But the Princess continues to dig herself into a hole.’
      • ‘You've already dug a hole for yourself, a nasty part of my mind stated.’
      • ‘He said he panicked because he was on probation and told the jury he had dug a hole for himself and that was why he wanted to tell the truth and come clean.’
      • ‘If you push yourself too much all at once, you will end up digging yourself into a hole.’
      • ‘I think he wanted to stop me before I dug myself into a hole.’
      • ‘Yet, as she began to walk over to them, she knew she had dug herself into a hole, but she tried to keep her chin up, especially after glancing back to the group.’
      • ‘And we are further digging ourselves into a hole by endorsing the use of police interrogation methods that experts throughout the world know don't work.’
      • ‘And the more a government has dug itself into a hole, the more it believes that everyone is out to get it.’
      • ‘We Texans have a saying: ‘When you find you've dug yourself into a hole, the very first thing to do is quit digging.’’
      • ‘Daddy, you're digging a hole for yourself by not telling her the truth.’
  • dig in one's heels

    • Resist stubbornly; refuse to give in.

      ‘he has dug in his heels and refuses to leave’
      • ‘A majority of the appeals court judges have dug in their heels in a way not seen since state courts resisted federal court rulings during the civil rights movement.’
      • ‘Those staff on the newspaper who had dug in their feet against my editorship or who were still sore that they themselves had not got the job saw the opportunity.’
      • ‘Or you could dig in your heels and stubbornly fight against life, trying to defeat it, like the fallen tree.’
      • ‘But the down side was that under pressure he may resent interruptions or demands on his time and react by digging in his heels and ignoring the needs of others.’
      • ‘My first viewing of it last year was an exercise in frustration as I dug in my heels and resisted any of its sensual pleasures as I hoped that its thematic strands would cohere into some sort of profound statement.’
      • ‘Both sides have dug in their heels and are in a waiting game to see who blinks first.’
      • ‘The prison administration and the Ontario Ministry for Public Safety and Security dug in their heels.’
      • ‘The difficulty for those attempting to save the credibility of Scottish football is that the very steps which would begin to redress the balance cause the Old Firm to dig in their heels in stubborn resistance.’
      • ‘The players should dig in their heels and withdraw their services if these new regulations are applied.’
      • ‘People will have to dig in their heels and grit their teeth.’
      oppose, fight against, refuse to accept, be hostile to, object to, be anti, take a stand against, defy, go against, set one's face against, kick against, baulk at
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  • dig's one's own grave


Middle English: perhaps from Old English dīc ditch.