"to disinter that which has been buried," especially a dead body, early 15c., from Medieval Latin exhumare "to unearth" (13c.), from Latin ex "out of" (see ex-) + humare "bury," from humus "earth" (from PIE root *dhghem- "earth"). An alternative form was exhumate (1540s), taken directly from Medieval Latin. Figurative use by 1819. Related: Exhumed; exhuming.