late 14c., "freedom or release" (from some activity or occupation), from O.Fr. vacation,
from L. vacationem
) "leisure, a being free from duty," from vacare
"be empty, free, or at leisure" (see vain
). Meaning "formal suspension of activity" (in ref. to schools, courts, etc.) is recorded from c.1456. As the U.S. equivalent of what in Britain is called a "holiday," it is attested from 1878.