Green’s Dictionary of Slang

dig v.3

[all orig. jazz musician use, thence adopted by the fans; ? ult. Wolof dega, to understand (Smitherman, Black Talk, 1994), although DARE remarks ‘questionable’ and HDAS ‘not been substantiated’); or ? SE dig, to excavate; or ? twig v.2 ; note Memoires d’un forban philosophe (c.1829): ‘Dig! Vous vous trempez, mon camarade!’ ‘La syllabe dig, entremelée dans la conversation des filous, les avertit de se tenir sur leur gardes’; and Hugo, Les Miserables (1862): ‘Cette syllable dig, non prononcée isolement, mais artistement melée aux mots d’une phrase, veut dire: Prenons garde, on ne peut parler librement.’]

1. (orig. US black) to get together, to meet.

[US]Cab Calloway Hi De Ho 32: dig: meet.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 4: And it was in Pontiac that I dug that Jim Crow man in person, a motherferyer that would cut your throat for looking.
[US]E. De Roo Big Rumble 14: We’ll dig each other if you want to.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 205: It was late one day and I was on my way / to dig my partner Dan.

2. (US black) to visit.

[US]Flash! (Wash., D.C.) 21 Feb. 11/1: dig my pad — Go home to my bed.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 25: The first place we dug was the De Luxe Café at 35th and State.
[US]H. Simmons Corner Boy 11: Let’s dig the happenings at Zodie’s.
[US]E. De Roo Big Rumble 92: We’re digging that Youth Board biggie together this aft, reet?

3. (orig. US black) to appreciate, to enjoy, to love.

[US]Archie Seale Man About Harlem 3 Oct. [synd. col.] [headline] Digging and Dishing.
[US]H.A. Smith Rhubarb 19: ‘Dig the Ancient One!’ Myra cried to the rest of the room. ‘Ain’t he lush!’.
[US]Mad mag. Nov. 7: When I dig that crazy Caesar I’m stoned even if I’m digging him six feet under!
[UK]K. Amis letter 14 Mar. in Leader (2000) 375: I dug your old fiction thing on the wireless and thought he read it as well as could be expected.
[US]‘Lord Buckley’ Hiparama of the Classics 14: Like some studs dig Kennedy, like some Studs dig Nixon.
[UK]T. Taylor Baron’s Court All Change (2011) 20: I didn’t dig this at all [...] so I asked her what she meant.
[US]D. Mamet Sexual Perversity in Chicago (1994) 95: I mean, I dig tits ... but I wouldn’t go out of my way for a pair of tits.
[US]P. Califia Macho Sluts 39: I dig what I do.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 394: I hate him, but I dig him too.
[US]Hip-Hop Connection Jan./Feb. 47: I can see myself doing a lot of other things, but right now I’m still digging it.
[UK]D. Seabrook Jack of Jumps (2007) 207: Mmm, she dug the Jazz Club.
[Aus]L. Redhead Cherry Pie [ebook] ‘Sounds like you really dig her, but you don’t seem upset you’ve broken up’.
[UK]K. Richards Life 238: We also knew that the Stones fans were digging it.
[US]S. King Finders Keepers (2016) 117: I knew you’d dig it.
[US]J. Ellroy Widespread Panic 24: ‘[G]et him to admit he digs boys’.

4. (orig. US black, also dig it) to understand.

[US]N.Y. Age 16 Dec. 10/1: Do you dig what I mean, my dear, or do must I tell what I know?
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 6: Something was all puffed up in me, but I couldn’t dig what it was, or give it a name.
[UK]C. MacInnes Absolute Beginners 174: Nobody seemed to dig how dangerous it had been to Dad.
[UK]C. Wood ‘Prisoner and Escort’ in Cockade (1965) I iii: Honestly I don’t dig you at all.
[Aus]‘Charles Barrett’ Address: Kings Cross 18: I bought Harper’s Bazaar and Playboy to glance through on the plane because they were so expensive, glossy and chic - a status symbol, if you dig me.
[UK]Nova Apr. 83: I don’t think many people dig what it’s about. It’s heavy. Really heavy.
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 70: I just want to die in peace. You can dig that, can’t you?
[US]N. McCall Makes Me Wanna Holler (1995) 288: Dig this: [...] a Confederate flag hung prominently from the state capitol.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Fall 3: DIG IT – understand.
[US]‘Touré’ Portable Promised Land (ms.) 157: We Words (My Favorite Things) [...] Ya dig? Ya heard? Yo mama!
[UK]D. O’Donnell Locked Ward (2013) 147: you know? We are in this world at the moment, but not of it. Dig?

5. (orig. US black) to pay close attention to; also ext. as dig it or dig up.

[US]Hot News Sept. 20/2: If you listen enough, and dig him enough, you will realise that that [...] riff is the high-spot of the record .
[US]Louis Jordan ‘You Run Your Mouth and I’ll Run My Business’ 🎵 But dig this spiel I’m going to lay on you, gate, / Don’t cop your broom, park the body and wait.
[US]Kerouac On the Road (The Orig. Scroll) (2007) 211: I dug the Square for Hunkey, he wasn’t there.
[US]‘Hal Ellson’ Golden Spike 161: Wait by the window and dig the stud I talk to.
[US]‘SWAP Dict. Teen-age Sl’ in Ebony Mar. 98/2: Dig up: give me your attention — as in ‘Dig up, man, let’s split this jam (leave this dance).
[UK]J. Colebrook Cross of Lassitude 233: Baby dig yourself [...] you’re pushing that broad too hard ... Lighten up a bit.
[US]A. Young Snakes (1971) 42: ‘Dig up,’ Champ said finally. ‘Tell you, here’s how I feel about you guys’ music.
[US](con. 1950s) D. Goines Whoreson 31: You said a pimp ain’t nothing, but dig this.
[US]H. Gould Fort Apache, The Bronx 43: Dig it, bro [...] That chick’s got some germs they ain’t even discovered yet.
[UK](con. 1950s) J. Byrne Slab Boys [film script] 9: Dig the crease in the flannels ... you could dice peaches wi’ them.

6. (US black, also dig the cat) to discuss, to converse.

Hal Ellson Duke ix: Digging the cat – talk, usually of a wide, loose nature, about everything and anything after smoking marihuana.
[US]W. Brown Monkey On My Back (1954) 43: They had both been waiting for the same pusher and they had got to digging the cat. [Ibid.] 44: It was just the sort of stuff you heard. He didn’t know where he’d got it from. Just some cats digging, throwing it around. [Ibid.] 99: Cat was also employed as a verb meaning to talk, while digging the cat meant talking aimlessly or at length.

7. (orig. US black) to find out, to discover; to interrogate.

[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 24: It didn’t take her long to dig where I hung out.
[US]J. Blake letter 6 Aug. in Joint (1972) 142: I think I was digging him harder than he was me.
[US]‘Paul Merchant’ ‘Sex Gang’ in Pulling a Train’ (2012) [ebook] He cursed himself for having dodged out. He knew he should have stayed close and dug the scene with the chicks in the car.
[US]C. Himes Blind Man with a Pistol (1971) 39: We’re to dig what we can without leaving our friend.
[UK]A. Pierrepoint Executioner 190: I do not think he was needling me, but I thought he had his spade out again. He was digging.
[UK]J. Cameron Vinnie Got Blown Away 156: Now don’t get personal Andy, you’re digging me out here.

8. to believe.

[US](con. 1953–7) L. Yablonsky Violent Gang (1967) 263: Oh, man, you guys still dig all that bullshit [...] I didn’t believe none of it.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 97: Now I don’t dig this play. [...] I’m goin’ up on the cuts and see what the other cats say.
[US]J. Wambaugh Glitter Dome (1982) 213: They charge the cons five dollars a day for room and board and get them jobs to pay back victims and the state! Can you dig it?

9. to see, to recognize.

Cornell (University) Daily Sun 10 Oct. 4: I ‘digged this baby,’ when I was a frosh [W&F].
[US]Southern & Hoffenberg Candy (1970) 153: Natch I was hip to the lay the moment I dug his joint.
[US]W. King ‘The Game’ in King Black Short Story Anthol. (1972) 302: I was in a mellow position. Had a joint next to her pad; could dig out the window.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Airtight Willie and Me 12: I dug Willie in position to score.
[US]W.D. Myers Game 161: We didn’t dig the press soon enough.

10. (orig. US black) to imagine.

[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 110: I’m digging maybe you’re fronting now, cool Piri, making like you’re a down stud. Now I ain’t signifying, but I never dug you for a punk.

In phrases

can you dig it?

(orig. US black) a rhetorical phr. seeking affirmation as a response.

Indep. Star-News (Pasadena, CA) 6 Jan. Scene 10/3: This book leaves one grasping with strange moral dilemmas [...] See if you can dig it.
[US]‘Hy Lit’ Hy Lit’s Unbelievable Dict. of Hip Words 7: can you dig it – Do you like it; do you know what I mean.
(con. 1965-66) P. Caputo Rumor of War 258: ‘We’ll wipe their ass. Can you dig it? Old fuckin’ Luke the Gook’s gonna die’.
[US]Ebonics Primer at 🌐 ‘Can you dig it?’ Definition: A request of confirmation that the listener agrees or understands with what the speaker is saying. An appropriate response would be, ‘Right on.’.
dig horrors (v.)

see separate entry.

dig it (v.)

1. see sense 4 above.

2. see sense 5 above.

dig on (v.) (orig. US black)

1. to like, to appreciate.

[US]C. Brown Mr Jive-Ass Nigger 156: Every man wants to be paid for his service [...] but black cats, when it comes to white women, dig on nothing else. I mean it’s the only way they want to relate to the bitches, and they dig it.
[US]J. Wambaugh Onion Field 81: He realized the last time he had danced was when people dug on rhythm and blues [Ibid.] 118: Greg seemed to have only black people for his special friends and [...] dug on freaks.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 234: dig (on one); dig (one’s) action 1. Like, appreciate one’s style, behavior, etc.
[US]G. Pelecanos Down by the River 73: Lyla was moving her head, digging on the music and the night.

2. to observe, to pay attention to, to watch.

[US]C. McFadden Serial 56: I can’t even dig on what to wear.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 234: dig (on one); dig (one’s) action [...] 4. Stare at, pay close attention to.
[US](con. 1964–8) J. Ellroy Cold Six Thousand 37: Let’s take the kids. Let’s dig on history and hot dogs.

3. to find (sexually) attractive.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 234: dig (on one); dig (one’s) action [...] 2. Be attracted to. [...] 5. Look intently, especially at one of the opposite sex.
[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 68: dig on to like.
[US](con. 1964–8) J. Ellroy Cold Six Thousand 7: Wayne was horny. Wayne dug on Janice.
dig the cat (v.)

see sense 6 above.

dig the dip on the four and two (v.) [SE four and two, six, i.e. the sixth (day)]

(US black/Harlem) to take a bath every Saturday night.

[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 53: You dig the dip, Jackson, on the four and two.
dig up (v.)

see sense 5 above.

dig you (later)

see you later, goodbye.

[US] ‘Hectic Harlem’ in N.Y. Amsterdam News 8 Feb, sect. 2: I’LL DIG YOU. – A parting phrase which means you will see a person later.
[US]Flash! (Wash., D.C.) 21 Feb. 11/1: dig you — See you later on.
[US]L. Hughes Tambourines to Glory II i: I’ll dig you later.
[US]J. ‘Moms’ Mabley in Hughes & Bontemps Book of Negro Folklore 496: I’m gonna cut out. I’m gonna dig you later.
[US]N. Heard Howard Street 43: He doffed his hat to them, enjoying his role. ‘I’ll dig y’all later.’.
[US]L. Kramer Faggots 246: Dig you later.
[US](con. 1946) G. Pelecanos Big Blowdown (1999) 43: Singing along to a Perry Como record — ‘Dig You Later (A Hubba, Hubba, Hubba)’.
[US]‘Touré’ Portable Promised Land (ms.) 158: We Words (My Favorite Things) [...] Dig you later. Fuck the dumb. Some next shit. You know this. I’m that guy.
plant you now, dig you later (also plant you here, dig you later)

(US black) goodbye for now, and see you later.

Duckett & Staple ‘Double Feature’ in N.Y. Age 28 Aug. 7/2: If you’ll pardon [...] the slang, mater...I’ll plant cha now and dig ya later.
[US]Pittsburgh Courier (PA) 24 May 11/2: So we’ll plant you here and dig you later . . . Billy Rowe.
[US] in Z.N. Hurston ‘Story in Harlem Sl.’ in Novels and Stories (1995) 1006: I’ll tell you like the farmer told the potato — plant you now and dig you later.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 170: Bye-bye Chicago, you old rockpile of a town. Plant you now and dig you later.
[US]Murtagh & Harris Who Live In Shadow (1960) 48: Bye-bye, baby. Plant you now and dig you later.