I have received feedback for a song I composed and some peers used the expression "I dig it". I know it should be interpreted as positive but, to what extent?

6 Answers 6


From Oxford dictionary:


  1. informal with object

    Like, appreciate, or understand. ‘I really dig heavy rock’

I think it's safe to say that their comment is high praise indeed.


"Dig" is slang and suggests first that the music/song is liked (liked a lot), and second that it is understood.


Used in this sense the verb dig means to admire or appreciate, and though it is now rather dated it was part of the pop music lingua franca of the 1950s and 60s.

OED sense 6c has examples from 1935 to 1969 - it is said to be of US origin.

6c. slang (orig. U.S.). (a) To understand, appreciate, like, admire; (b) to look at or listen to; to experience. Cf. sense 1c.

1935 Hot News Sept. 20/2 If you listen enough, and dig him enough, you will realise that that..riff is the high-spot of the record.

1941 Life 15 Dec. 89 Dig me?

1943 M. Shulman Barefoot Boy 90 Awful fine slush pump, I mean awful fine. You ought to dig that.

1944 C. Calloway Hepsters Dict. Dig v.—(1) Meet. (2) Look, see. (3) Comprehend, understand.

1944 M. Zolotow Never whistle in Dressing Room iii. 52 When they see a pretty girl they shout, ‘Dig the chick.’

1947 R. de Toledano Frontiers of Jazz p. x, I recognize it when I see it, the same as I dig good Jazz when I hear it.

1949 L. Feather Inside Be-bop iii. 28 Dizzy didn't dig the band's kind of music and the band didn't dig Dizzy.

1958 Punch 8 Jan. 92/1 The lines of communication get tangled. In other words the people don't quite ‘dig’ you.

1958 Listener 29 May 912/1 He wants to ‘dig’ the whole of life, and is convinced that experience comes only to the irresponsible.

1958 Punch 25 June 853/3 Does the beat generation really dig such crazy old-world catch-phrases?

1959 C. MacInnes Absolute Beginners 60 If you like the other number, I mean like the looks of them, really dig them sexually.

1959 C. MacInnes Absolute Beginners 62 Everything you learned, you hadn't learned until you'd really dug it: i.e., made it part of your own experience.

1960 N. Mitford Don't tell Alfred xviii. 192 Of course he's a man's man, you might not dig him like we do.

1969 New Yorker 29 Nov. 48/1, I just don't dig any of these guys. I don't understand their scenes.

Note that the OED does refer to sense 1c, suggesting that there may be a connection. It has origins from as early as 1789

1c. fig. with allusion to the general sense; also spec. to study hard and closely at a subject (U.S.). Hence, to understand (cf. sense 6c
(slang (orig. U.S.)).

1789 Trifler No. 43. 549 Youths who never digged for the rich ore of knowledge thro' the pages of the Rambler.

1801 R. Southey Thalaba I. iv. 220 'Tis a spring of living waters, Whose inexhaustible bounties all might drink But few dig deep enough.

1827 Harvard Reg. (1828) Dec. 303 Here the sunken eye and sallow countenance bespoke the man who dug sixteen hours‘ per diem’.

1869 L. M. Alcott Little Women II. xii. 177 Laurie ‘dug’ to some purpose that year.

1936 N.Y. World Telegram 6 Oct. 16/1 ‘You dig?’ is a short cut for ‘You understand?’

1952 B. Ulanov Hist. Jazz in Amer. xxiv. 344 The man who really ‘digs’ can more often than not describe the next development in jazz before the musicians have reached it.

1957 C. MacInnes City of Spades i. xi. 89 Twist now—you dig?


This particular use of 'dig' can mean either to like or understand something. It could also mean a combination of the two, as a general verb of approval for something.

The term was particularly popular during the 1960s-1970s and is today considered slightly old-fashioned. It seems to be mainly used today in connection with music, perhaps as a deliberate homage to the music and associated culture of that era.


That they 'dig' your song is a great compliment - shows that they can relate to it and also loved it! It's a cool way of praising!


It originates with the Irish language Tuigim meaning "I understand". https://inirish.bitesize.irish/339

  • Welcome to English Language Learners! That is not supported by the linked website, could you edit to provide more evidence please?
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Apr 25, 2022 at 17:22
  • No. It's true I'm telling them. That's as much effort as I put in for free. Commented Apr 26, 2022 at 21:12

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