Please look at the usage in the following context:

He has spent his life as a treasure hunter, a real-life Indiana Jones who has bought, sold, traded, and dug his way to a peerless collection of artifacts.

Of course I am interested in the metaphorical meaning. Can you think of any accurate examples?

closed as not constructive by FumbleFingers, tchrist, Robusto, MetaEd, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Mar 8 '13 at 15:43

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    There are lots of verbs you can use to describe making advances is life (clawed his way to the front, climbed his way to the top, scratched out a living, etc.), but dug seems especially appropriate for an archeologist. That all said, I'm having trouble grasping what you are really asking about here; the question seems a little vague. Maybe you'd want to elaborate in an edit to the question? – J.R. Mar 6 '13 at 23:34
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    Actually, Mike, my interpretation of the example sentence is that the person did all these activities to achieve their collection of artifacts: bought his way to a peerless collection of artifacts, sold his way to a peerless collection of artifacts, traded his way to a peerless collection of artifacts and dug his way to a peerless collection of artifacts. If you're only interested in the "dug" part, J.R., examples are excellent. – Kristina Lopez Mar 7 '13 at 0:04
  • Interesting interpretation. I didn't take that into consideration. Thanks J.R., your examples are indeed very helpful. I just couldn't come across any interesting ones, although "climbing one's way to the top" seems pretty obvious. – warząchew Mar 7 '13 at 0:37
  • where would you dig your way oout from? – user38915 Mar 7 '13 at 0:38
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    I think this is Not Constructive. You can [verb] your way to [some goal] with most verbs. What on earth is the point of asking for a selection of particular verbs that might help with particular goals? How are we supposed to identify and upvote the "best" or "right" answer? – FumbleFingers Mar 7 '13 at 3:08

So, the challenge of the day is to match a verb for persistence with a situation requiring that act of persistence:

  1. She ploughed (aka plow) her way thro obstacles, and against all odds, to be the first woman CEO of the company, where women are not easily accepted in the farming equipment business.

  2. He had been dribbling around the field long enough, and it's fair to say he has dribbled successfully to be one of the most successful FC managers in England.

  3. Thro all her good and bad pitches, it surprises most participants except those familiar with her over-enthusiasm with the sport, to find that she is on the top 10 list of the most successful baseball rotisserie players.

  4. The economic picture they painted about the prospects and demand for home & building facades laid the groundwork for them to paint a small paint-business into the construction landscape to be in the fore-front in manufacturing state-of-the-art building materials.

  5. He cooked the darn out of himself by being such friggin lazy and sloppy cook and now he's out of a job because no one wants to hire such a darn sloppy cook.

  6. As a lawyer, he was able to smoke around the legalities, using diverse approaches to skirt federal law enforcement, to enable him to own the most successful pot franchise on the west coast.

  7. It's not easy to be in the intimacy provision business, even in jurisdictions where it's more legal. But, we could safely say, she was all too adept at fondling with the business aspects of it and she is now CEO (and madame-in-charge) of the largest intimacy personnel and equipment marketing corporation in the country.


The original quotation offers multiple variants on "dig one's way to" because bought, sold, and traded should be read into the same structure.

On that basis there are numerous parallels such as "lied her way into the CEO suite", "slept his way to the top", "charmed their way into the hearts of viewers" and (as they say) many more.

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