dig (v.)

c. 1200, diggen, "to make a ditch or other excavation," a word of uncertain origin, perhaps related to dike and ditch, either via Anglo-French diguer, from Old French digue "dike" (which is ultimately from Proto-Germanic *dīk-, from PIE root *dheigw- "to stick, fix") or directly from an unrecorded Old English verb. The older native words were deolfan (see delve), grafan (see grave (v.)).

Transitive meanings "form by excavation, make by digging," also "obtain or remove by excavation" are from late 14c.; figurative sense of "discover by effort or search" is from early 15c. Meaning "to penetrate" is from mid-15c.; transitive sense of "cause to penetrate, thrust or force in" is by 1885.

In 19c. U.S. student slang it meant "study hard, give much time to study" (1827); the 20c. slang sense of "understand" is recorded by 1934 in African-American vernacular. Both probably are based on the notion of "excavate." A slightly varied sense of "appreciate" emerged by 1939. The strong past participle dug appeared in 16c. but is not etymological.

dig (n.)

late 17c., "a tool for digging," from dig (v.). Meaning "archaeological expedition" is from 1896. Meaning "a thrust or poke" (as with an elbow) is from 1819; figurative sense of this is by 1840.

updated on August 19, 2018

Definitions of dig from WordNet
dig (v.)
turn up, loosen, or remove earth;
Synonyms: delve / cut into / turn over
dig (v.)
create by digging;
dig out a channel
dig a hole
Synonyms: dig out
dig (v.)
work hard;
She was digging away at her math homework
Synonyms: labor / labour / toil / fag / travail / grind / drudge / moil
dig (v.)
remove, harvest, or recover by digging;
dig salt
dig coal
Synonyms: dig up / dig out
dig (v.)
thrust down or into;
dig your foot into the floor
dig the oars into the water
dig (v.)
remove the inner part or the core of;
Synonyms: excavate / hollow
dig (v.)
poke or thrust abruptly;
Synonyms: jab / prod / stab / poke
dig (v.)
get the meaning of something;
Synonyms: grok / get the picture / comprehend / savvy / grasp / compass / apprehend
dig (n.)
the site of an archeological exploration;
they set up camp next to the dig
Synonyms: excavation / archeological site
dig (n.)
an aggressive remark directed at a person like a missile and intended to have a telling effect;
she takes a dig at me every chance she gets
Synonyms: shot / shaft / slam / barb / jibe / gibe
dig (n.)
a small gouge (as in the cover of a book);
the book was in good condition except for a dig in the back cover
dig (n.)
the act of digging;
Synonyms: excavation / digging
dig (n.)
the act of touching someone suddenly with your finger or elbow;
she gave me a sharp dig in the ribs
Synonyms: jab
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.