to dig, excavate
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People use this kanji for digging up crops, excavating ruins, and mining; 掘 is quite grounded. But if you dig a little, you'll soon spot its figurative side. This essay will teach you to say "That old book is a real find" and "Someone rear-ended me." Through this kanji you’ll find out about hidden treasure, an animal shaped like a tusk, and heating systems submerged in pits in the floor.
May 8, 2015: Made several changes:
p. 3: For the third definition of 芋掘り, I changed "looking down on rural people" (which sounded like the act of looking down on someone) to "derogatory term for rural people."
pp. 4-5, 11, 12, 14: For several keywords I changed the first part of the breakdown from "digging" to "to dig." That is, in compound verbs such as 掘り起こす, the 掘り is not a noun but rather the pre-masu form of the verb 掘る, so "to dig" is more accurate.
Nov. 8, 2013: Originally published.