The screen was showing a close up of some buildings in ruins. Excavators and bulldozers [...] debris aside, while the survivors watched the work with anguish and despair on their faces.

OK, I guess I could use put. But I think it sounds too soft for such heavy work. I also thought of push but I guess excavators don't actually push things? (unless push can also be used for 'grabbing things and putting them aside').

So I can't think of the proper verb. Any suggestions?

  • 3
    Moved? (And actually, bulldozers do push) – Andrew Leach Oct 4 '13 at 13:05
  • @Andrew Leach I know. I was talking about the excavators. Moved is good choice. Thanks! – janoChen Oct 4 '13 at 13:42
  • The technical name for the operation is '(site) clearance' -- beyond that it's up to the author and the contextual mood to determine an appropriate word to be used. – Kris Oct 4 '13 at 14:03
  • 1
    What Kris said, so in your case, you can say the bulldozers were clearing debris. – Kristina Lopez Oct 4 '13 at 19:24


  • based on what they're trying to achieve


  • includes lifting (diggers) and pushing (bulldozers)

Shove? To shove is to push.

Excavators shoved debris aside, while the survivors watched the work with anguish and despair on their face.


How does thrust sound?

Machines can be used to thrust debris aside.


Clear/move/remove (without aside)


I must really be at my wits end for writing this. It would depend upon what you wish to infer. Put implies commonness, disinterest, a sense that the do-er (in this case the bulldozer drivers) have not a clue or a care about the effects of their actions.

Shove implies a more aggressive intent, almost a punishment, ill will among the do-ers. A poet here answering this.

One might imply indifference; one might imply malice. Your call.

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