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I have TWO related questions about the phrase "dig out".

First Question: Is there a difference between these two sentences?

  1. The town is digging out from the snow.
  2. The town is digging out from under the snow.

Are "dig out from the snow" different from "dig out from under the snow"? Sentences using both versions could be found on google.

Second question: Suppose there was a snowstorm with several feet of snow.

  1. He dug out his car.
  2. He dug out his driveway.

I found both versions on google. But, "dig out a driveway" seems weird compared to "dig out a car". One can realistically get a car out of snow by digging. But a driveway is stationary. The most one can do is to clear the snow off the driveway. So, would "dig out a driveway" be wrong?

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dig out
a. to remove earth or debris from by digging.

Dig out
2. dig out - dig out from underneath earth or snow

Dig out
1. to get something out of a place or out of the ground by digging
Rescuers are still digging people out of the rubble.

If a town is "buried" in snow, the citizens can "dig out from the snow" or "dig out from under the snow" or "dig out after the snowstorm". The prepositional phrase is just describing how the town is "digging out".

If I "dig out" my driveway, I am removing snow (or maybe mud) from it. If I "dig out" my car, I am getting it out of the snow by digging.

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  • So, "dig out the driveway" is an acceptable idiom in snowy regions of the US? – meatie Nov 21 '14 at 1:13
  • @meatie Why do you think it isn't acceptable? – ColleenV Nov 21 '14 at 1:17
  • With "dig something out", it seems to suggest that "something" is physically taken from some place. A car could be reasonably physically taken from some place. But a driveway cannot be reasonably physically taken from some place (unless some heavy-duty equipment is used). – meatie Nov 21 '14 at 3:11
  • @meatie Think of digging out as removing the snow that is covering or blocking something. Thus, digging your car out and digging your driveway out are often part of the same, tiring, morning routine. – choster Nov 21 '14 at 3:17
  • @meatie And why wouldn't the first definition in my answer apply to "digging out the driveway"? Don't take the "earth or debris" too literally there - think of it as any material that you can dig - snow, sand, etc. – ColleenV Nov 21 '14 at 4:08
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Regarding the second question

  1. He dug out his car out of the snow.
  2. He dug out the snow from his driveway.

sounds better to me!

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  • So, "dig out the driveway" is an acceptable idiom only in snowy regions of the US? – meatie Nov 21 '14 at 1:14

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