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dig (dĭg)
v. dug (dŭg), dig·ging, digs
1. 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.
a. To make or form by removing earth or other material: dig a trench; dug my way out of the snow.
b. To prepare (soil) by loosening or cultivating.
a. To obtain or unearth by digging: dig coal out of a seam; dug potatoes from a field.
b. To obtain or find by an action similar to digging: dug a dollar out of his pocket; dug the puck out of the corner.
4. To learn or discover by careful research or investigation: dug up the evidence; dug out the real facts.
5. To force down and into something; thrust: dug his foot in the ground.
6. To poke or prod: dug me in the ribs.
7. Sports To strike or redirect (a ball) just before it hits the ground, keeping it in play, as in tennis or volleyball.
8. Slang
a. To understand fully: Do you dig what I mean?
b. To like, enjoy, or appreciate: "They really dig our music and, daddy, I dig swinging for them" (Louis Armstrong).
c. To take notice of: Dig that wild outfit.
1. To loosen, turn over, or remove earth or other material.
2. To make one's way by or as if by pushing aside or removing material: dug through the files.
3. Slang To have understanding: Do you dig?
1. A poke or thrust: a sharp dig in the ribs.
2. A sarcastic, taunting remark; a gibe.
3. An archaeological excavation.
4. Sports An act or an instance of digging a ball.
5. digs Lodgings.
Phrasal Verb:
dig in
1. To dig trenches for protection.
2. To hold on stubbornly, as to a position; entrench oneself.
3. To begin to work intensively.
4. To begin to eat heartily.
dig in (one's) heels
To resist opposition stubbornly; refuse to yield or compromise.
dig it out
Slang To run as fast as one can, especially as a base runner in baseball.

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

Our Living Language In its slang sense of "to enjoy," dig is one of the many words and expressions that come from African American Vernacular English. Like cool, it is first recorded in 1930s jazz circles. While several AAVE expressions that have entered colloquial American English from jazz still have musical associations, many others do not, and quite a few are so ordinary today that their origin in AAVE is not at all obvious. Some are no longer regarded as slang, such as badmouth, cakewalk, nitty-gritty, and main man. Others, like fox (sexy woman), gig, and chump change are still slang or informal. Of course, American slang has received terms from other musical genres besides jazz and rap. For instance, emo was first used for an often "emotional" genre of rock music originating in the 1980s, and has since been extended to mean "angst-filled, melancholy, or sad."
(click for a larger image)
Andrew Schacht of Australia at the 2007 Beach Volleyball World Championships
Gstaad, Switzerland

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.