from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To break up, turn over, or remove (earth or sand, for example), as with a shovel, spade, or snout, or with claws, paws or hands.
  • intransitive verb To make or form by removing earth or other material.
  • intransitive verb To prepare (soil) by loosening or cultivating.
  • intransitive verb To obtain or unearth by digging.
  • intransitive verb To obtain or find by an action similar to digging.
  • intransitive verb To learn or discover by careful research or investigation.
  • intransitive verb To force down and into something; thrust.
  • intransitive verb To poke or prod.
  • intransitive verb Sports To strike or redirect (a ball) just before it hits the ground, keeping it in play, as in tennis or volleyball.
  • intransitive verb To understand fully.
  • intransitive verb To like, enjoy, or appreciate.
  • intransitive verb To take notice of.
  • intransitive verb To loosen, turn over, or remove earth or other material.
  • intransitive verb To make one's way by or as if by pushing aside or removing material.
  • intransitive verb Slang To have understanding.
  • noun A poke or thrust.
  • noun A sarcastic, taunting remark; a gibe.
  • noun An archaeological excavation.
  • noun Sports An act or an instance of digging a ball.
  • noun Lodgings.
  • idiom (dig in (one's) heels) To resist opposition stubbornly; refuse to yield or compromise.
  • idiom Slang (dig it out) To run as fast as one can, especially as a base runner in baseball.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To make a ditch or other excavation; turn up or throw out earth or other material, as in making a ditch or channel or in tilling: as, to dig in the field; to dig to the bottom of something.
  • To study hard; give much time to study; grind.
  • To excavate; make a passage through or into, or remove, by loosening and taking away material: usually followed by an adverb: as, to dig up the ground; to dig out a choked tunnel.
  • To form by excavation; make by digging: as, to dig a tunnel, a well, a mine, etc.; to dig one's way out.
  • To break up and turn over piecemeal, as a portion of ground: as, to dig a garden with a spade; a hog digs the ground with his snout.
  • To excavate a passage or tunnel for; make a way of escape for by digging: as, he dug himself out of prison.
  • To obtain or remove by excavation; figuratively, to find or discover by effort or search; get by close attention or investigation: often followed by up or out: as, to dig potatoes; to dig or dig out ore; to dig up old records; to dig out a lesson.
  • To cause to penetrate; thrust or force in: followed by into: as, he dug his spurs into his horse's flanks; he dug his heel into the ground.
  • noun A thrust; a punch; a poke: as, a dig in the ribs: often used figuratively of sarcasm and criticism.
  • noun A diligent or plodding student.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To turn up, or delve in, (earth) with a spade or a hoe; to open, loosen, or break up (the soil) with a spade, or other sharp instrument; to pierce, open, or loosen, as if with a spade.
  • transitive verb To get by digging.
  • transitive verb To hollow out, as a well; to form, as a ditch, by removing earth; to excavate.
  • transitive verb colloq. To thrust; to poke.
  • transitive verb colloq., colloq. To like; enjoy; admire.
  • transitive verb to undermine and cause to fall by digging; as, to dig down a wall.
  • transitive verb to get out or obtain by digging. The preposition is often omitted; as, the men are digging coal, digging iron ore, digging potatoes.
  • transitive verb To entrench oneself so as to give stronger resistance; -- used of warfare or negotiating situations.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English diggen; perhaps akin to Old French digue, dike, trench; see dhīgw- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From African American Vernacular English; due to lack of writing of slave speech, etymology is difficult to trace, but it has been suggested that it is from Wolof dëgg, dëgga ("to understand, to appreciate"). It has also been suggested that it is from Irish dtuig. Others do not propose a distinct etymology, instead considering this a semantic shift of the existing English term.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English diggen ("to dig"), alteration (possibly due to Danish dige) of Old English dīcian ("to dig a ditch, to mound up earth") (compare Old English dīcere ("digger")) from dīc, dīċ ("dike, ditch") from Proto-Germanic *dīkaz, *dīkijan (“pool, puddle”), from Proto-Indo-European *dhīgw-, *dheigw- (“to stab, dig”). Akin to Danish dige ("to dig, raise a dike"), Swedish dika ("to dig ditches"). Related to, but not derived from, Middle French diguer ("to dig"), itself a borrowing of the same Germanic root (from Middle Dutch dijc), as the Middle French word appears later than the Middle English word. More at ditch, dike.


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