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. [1930s–60s] (orig. US black) to get together, to meet.

2. [1930s–60s] (US black) to visit.

3. [1930s+] (orig. US black) to appreciate, to enjoy, to love.

4. [1930s+] (orig. US black, also dig it) to understand.

5. [1930s+] (orig. US black) to pay close attention to; also ext. as dig it or dig up.

6. [1940s–50s] (US black, also dig the cat) to discuss, to converse.

7. [1940s+] (orig. US black) to find out, to discover; to interrogate.

8. [1950s+] to believe.

9. [1950s+] to see, to recognize.

10. [1960s] (orig. US black) to imagine.

In phrases

can you dig it?

[1960s+] (US black) a rhetorical phr. seeking affirmation as a response.

dig horrors (v.)

see separate entry.

dig it (v.)

1. see sense 4 above.

2. see sense 5 above.

dig on (v.) [1970s+] (orig. US black)

1. to observe, to pay attention to, to watch.

2. to find (sexually) attractive.

3. to like, to appreciate.

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)]

[1940s] (US black/Harlem) to take a bath every Saturday night.

dig up (v.)

see sense 5 above.

dig you (later)

[1940s+] see you later, goodbye.

plant you now, dig you later

[1940s–50s] (US black) goodbye for now, and see you later.