Dig [digs] (lodging)

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  • redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Janitor: Hey, nice new digs.Looks like you could use a new coat of paint, though.

    Source: Scrubs 604
    Background: Elliot was going to start her new career in private practice. She was setting up her new office when Janitor came in with an offer to paint an mural for her.

    Is this definition "an apartment or other place to live (link)" too specific? I guess it can refer to any office other than a house or a home.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    This is Elliot's office, so you could call it her new 'home' - it's where she'll be staying from now on. So it's loosely digs the same way it's loosely home. 'Digs' rather implies a small part of a larger building (a room in a house, a flat/apartment in a block), and a temporary state: rented rather than owned. An office in a larger building fits that, though it's not where she'll literally live.
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Thanks entangledbank~

    Does it take an article? If Janitor chose to use "it's" at the beginning of the sentence, would he say "It's a nice new digs."?
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    This is Elliot's office, so you could call it her new 'home' - it's where she'll be staying from now on. So it's loosely digs the same way it's loosely home. 'Digs' rather implies a small part of a larger building (a room in a house, a flat/apartment in a block), and a temporary state: rented rather than owned. An office in a larger building fits that, though it's not where she'll literally live.
    I find this use strange - I would never describe an office as "digs" - for me it must always mean a place to live - literally. Otherwise I agree with etb's explanation - part of a larger building and the temporary nature of the accommodation.
     

    estefanos

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I find this use strange - I would never describe an office as "digs" - for me it must always mean a place to live - literally. Otherwise I agree with etb's explanation - part of a larger building and the temporary nature of the accommodation.
    I agree with Andy about 'a place to live' -- to me that's the primary meaning of 'digs'. I would, though, understand it being used to refer to a private office by extension, i.e. 'the place you hang out'.

    The requirement to be a part of a larger building, or a temporary residence, doesn't enter into my understanding of the word. To my mind, one could walk into a friend's new (purchased) mansion and say 'nice digs, man.'

    I haven't heard this word since the seventies, but it was fairly common then. At that time I was under the impression that 'digs' for 'residence' came from the beatniks.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    As a student, many of my colleagues lived in "digs".
    The important distinction between "digs" and any other accommodation was that living in digs meant living in a room in someone's home.
    Often, a student living in digs would have breakfast provided, and possibly also an evening meal.
     

    estefanos

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    The important distinction between "digs" and any other accommodation was that living in digs meant living in a room in someone's home.
    This is very interesting to me. I'm a West Coast AE speaker, and I've never seen this distinction before. In fact, reaching far back into my memory, the phrase was mainly used to refer to a rented house or apartment.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    This is very interesting to me. I'm a West Coast AE speaker, and I've never seen this distinction before. In fact, reaching far back into my memory, the phrase was mainly used to refer to a rented house or apartment.
    I was beginning to suspect that :)
    My understanding may be very local, though I know it was a distinction used when my kids moved to universities in Scotland and England.
    Living in a rented house or apartment would definitely not have been described as living in digs. That was a progression from living in digs :)
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    On reflection, I have to reconsider my response to etb's posting. I think I agree with Panj - "digs" means a room in a house with at least breakfast provided. For my father it was an evening meal as well. (Yorkshire pudding and gravy for starters, and you don't get any meat until you've eaten all of the pudding)
     

    inauspicious_gentleman

    New Member
    English - United States
    The Dubliners recasting of "Mrs. McGrath", which I used earlier today as an example of usage for skite, also uses the word, digs. It appears in the university sense that panjandrum describes: "The fellas in the digs took me out on the skite." Digs seems to refer to student housing in the Irish sense here since the song is about Ciaran Bourke's moral demise while attending college in Dublin. Presumably, the song also qualifies digs as a shared living space, for earlier in the song the protagonist pleas to his father that "the fellas in the digs drove me to the bad". The proximity of the "fellas in the digs" seems to contribute to Ciaran's moral demise. Thanks, panjandrum, for bolstering my understanding of Irish slang. These usages don't appear where I live, and I'd like to know what I'm singing about when I perform songs such as this here in America.
     
    Last edited:

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I haven't heard "digs" for decades. The way it was used back then was simply to mean a place to live, whatever its size and whether rented or owned. It would not have been applied to an office.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Presumably, the song also qualifies digs as a shared living space, for earlier in the song the protagonist pleas to his father that "the fellas in the digs drove me to the bad".
    You are reading too much into this. "Digs" has been and was, at the time the Dubliners wrote that version of Mrs McGrath, a commonplace term in British and Irish English for rented accommodation which consisted of a bedroom in a house with at least breakfast provided. As panjandrum posted earlier
    The important distinction between "digs" and any other accommodation was that living in digs meant living in a room in someone's home.
    Digs were used by labourers, office-workers and students alike. There was often more than one bedroom to let, so there would be others also in the same digs, but there is no implication of shared living space.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Digs is short for 'diggings' and has largely replaced the longer form, which is used by Conan Doyle:
    “My friend here wants to take diggings, and as you were complaining that you could get no one to go halves with you, I thought that I had better bring you together.”
    Sherlock Holmes seemed delighted at the idea of sharing his rooms with me. “I have my eye on a suite in Baker Street,” he said, “which would suit us down to the ground".
    A Sudy in Scarlet, Chap. 1.

    The idea behind the word is of an excavation: a hole dug in the ground, as soldiers do in the field for a temporary shelter.
    The term is also used for archaeological excavations.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, confirmed by the new WR Dictionary (Concise Collins):

    digs /dɪɡz/ pl n
    • Brit informal lodgings
    Etymology: 19th Century: shortened from diggings, perhaps referring to where one digs or works, but see also dig in
    It does label it as British though, and it's interesting that it was in AmE too. Having been a student in the UK, I'm familiar with the sense mentioned by Panj and Andy.
     
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