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I'm a young native english speaker raised in Canada. At school me and most of my friends tend to use the phrase "Im really digging this", as to mean i'm really enjoying a specific thing or activity. Where exactly did this come from?

I use it all the time in this context, but when I think about digging ( like digging a hole, or digging yourself into a mess) I can't really make sense of it in this context.

Ex:

"You play that new game that just came out?"

"Yeah bro, im really digging it!"

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  • Reasonably sure that it goes back to the beatnik era of the late 40s and 50s. Like much of such speech it may derive from musicians' jargon.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 8, 2018 at 2:25
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    Check this question on the English Language Learner's site -- the 2nd answer down (with a whole pile of Oxford Dictionary quotes) offers an explanation. ell.stackexchange.com/questions/121607/…
    – JDM-GBG
    Nov 8, 2018 at 2:26

3 Answers 3

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From EtymOnline:

In 19c. U.S. student slang it meant "study hard, give much time to study" (1827); the 20c. slang sense of "understand" is recorded by 1934 in African-American vernacular. Both probably are based on the notion of "excavate." A slightly varied sense of "appreciate" emerged by 1939.

So there were a few intermediate steps between "digging a hole" and "digging a game". The direct connection is unintuitive, but only because of the way the latter developed.

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  • I guess it's a natural progression from using "dig" to mean to understand something, to talking about understanding or getting a piece of music or a musical genre or an artistic work ("I dig this"=I understand what this is about, I know what the author/singer/musician is talking about), to the idea that you're appreciating something because you're sympathetic or in agreement or in the same frame of mind.
    – Stuart F
    Sep 6, 2021 at 16:47
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It comes from Irish immigrants particularly in New York City. In the Irish language the phrase 'An dtuigeann tú' translates to 'do you unserstand'. Dtuigeann being pronounced like 'diggin' in Irish. Somehow through the years it made it's was into the urban black vernacular made popular my New York based jazz musicians.

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  • Hi, and welcome to ELU. Please take the tour and consider how you might improve your answer. As it stands, this sounds like opinion.
    – Davo
    Oct 1, 2020 at 20:58
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I give you my American Feedback and say the term you described is from the 70s. Jimmy Walker from Good Times used to say "DYNOMITE!" and DIGGING something was very common in American culture in the 70's to denote an excellent time was had.

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    Note that an answer is expected to be authoritative, detailed, and explain why it is correct - preferably by quoting a reference (e.g. a dictionary definition) hyperlinked to the source. You can edit your post to add this detail; for further guidance, see How to Answer. Nov 8, 2018 at 11:29
  • "Dig it" was a common term in TV sitcoms of the 50s and 60s.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 8, 2018 at 13:29

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