dig [for "understand or like"; still used?]

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NewAmerica

Banned
Mandarin
Cambridge Dictionary says "dig —
old-fashioned slang to like or understand something:
Hey, I really dig those shoes!
You dig my meaning, man?"

Here it shows us two things: (1)Dig is old-fashioned; (2) Dig is slang.

That is why I wonder whether dig in this meaning is still in use today.

Our dictionary seems to have confirmed it, which appears not to be old-fashioned:

dig
  1. to understand:[~ + object]Can you dig that?[no object]I'll be there, you dig?
  2. Slang Termsto take notice of;
    look at carefully:[~ + object]Dig those shoes he's wearing.
  3. Slang Terms to like or enjoy:[~ + object]I really dig those styles they wear.
--------------------------------
This might mean Cambridge Dictionary has not updated its definition in time. I am not sure.

So to make it clear: the question is: if dig means understand or like, is it old-fashioned?


Thanks in advance
 
  • snargleplax

    Senior Member
    English - Northwestern United States
    I still use it occasionally in modern AE, and have heard others do so. I'd say we do so with a bit of a nod to what is now an old-fashioned (mid 20th century) tone, though not a heavy one. It's certainly more of a rarefied spice than it would have been when in stronger circulation -- more than once in a while would sound affected/anachronistic. You dig?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I found a previous thread asking more or less the same question, here:

    I kinda dig it!

    The consensus seemed to be that it was a popular expression in the 1960s, but would sound very dated nowadays.

    [cross-posted, you dig? :)]
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Our dictionary seems to have confirmed it, which appears not to be old-fashioned:
    The WRF dictionary is a good dictionary because it contains old-fashioned terms. Merely because it does not say that "dig" is old-fashioned, does not mean that dig is popular and current.

    I would suspect that currently "dig" is mainly used for humorous or sarcastic effect.
     

    NewAmerica

    Banned
    Mandarin
    Got it.

    Here is an example that I failed to get the nuance:


    Why I Don't Dig Buddhism
    By John Horgan on December 2, 2011
    -Scientific American Source

    The question is: Does it mean "Why I Don't Understand Buddhism"? Or does it mean "Why I Don't Like Buddhism"?
     

    NewAmerica

    Banned
    Mandarin
    I assume you read the article before asking the question - what do you think it means?
    (Here's the direct link - he also used the word "grok" which is around the same vintage:)))
    The context decides nuance.

    Let us look back on the Cambridge Dictionary:

    (dig —
    old-fashioned slang to like or understand something:
    (1) Hey, I really dig those shoes!
    (2) You dig my meaning, man?")

    It simply gives the definition "like or understand something" and you have to decide:

    In (1), "dig those shoes" must be "like those shoes" in general context unless you're an addict of Harry Potter magic.

    In (2), "dig my meaning" must be "understand my meaning", while "like my meaning" sounds strange.

    But "Why I Don't Dig Buddhism" can be both, you don't like it or you don't understand it.

    I've read through the article twice and it gives me the impression "I understand it yet I don't like it."

    That is, my answer is "Why I Don't Dig Buddhism" should have referred to "Why I Don't Like Buddhism."

    Is it a correct answer?
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I've read through the article twice and it gives me the impression "I understand it yet I don't like it."
    For the most part, I agree. The main point of the article is that the author has some experience with Buddhism and familiarity with it, and he rejects it.

    'Dig' is a cultural reference to the '60s, when 'dig' and 'grok' were popular expressions. In the '60's, eastern religions and religious practices were popular - and some people adopted them without really understanding them. So when the author uses 'dig' and 'grok', he is using language that disparages people's shallow understanding of Buddhism.

    (Notice that he uses these slang terms only at the beginning and end of the piece; they are tacked on to a discussion in ordinary language. You can understand the substance of his position without understanding the significance of the slang from the 60's.)
     
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