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[vak-yoom, -yoo-uh m, -yuh m] /ˈvæk yum, -yu əm, -yəm/
noun, plural vacuums for 1, 2, 4–6, vacua
[vak-yoo-uh] /ˈvæk yu ə/ (Show IPA),
for 1, 2, 4, 6.
a space entirely devoid of matter.
an enclosed space from which matter, especially air, has been partially removed so that the matter or gas remaining in the space exerts less pressure than the atmosphere (opposed to plenum).
the state or degree of exhaustion in such an enclosed space.
a space not filled or occupied; emptiness; void:
The loss left a vacuum in his heart.
a vacuum cleaner or sweeper.
Physics. a state of lowest energy in a quantum field theory.
of, pertaining to, employing, or producing a vacuum.
(of a hollow container) partly exhausted of gas or air.
pertaining to a device or process that makes use of a vacuum to accomplish a desired task.
noting or pertaining to canning or packaging in which air is removed from the container to prevent deterioration of the contents.
verb (used with object)
to use a vacuum cleaner on; clean with a vacuum cleaner:
to vacuum rugs.
to treat with any vacuum device, as a vacuum drier.
verb (used without object)
to use a vacuum cleaner:
to vacuum in the dining room.
1540-50; < Latin, neuter of vacuus empty
Related forms
nonvacuum, adjective, noun, plural nonvacuums, nonvacua. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for vacuum
  • Most nondairy milks are sold in vacuum-sealed cartons and are shelf-stable for as long as a year.
  • Many blowers, both gas and electric, come with attachments made to vacuum up leaves.
  • Also, the pavement can be vacuumed with a commercial vacuum truck if need be.
  • It needed to function in a vacuum, and it got the job done.
  • Once introduced to the vacuum cleaner, its mechanical nature may overexcite him and cause him to proceed with inappropriate haste.
  • Many of them could resist the suction of even our industrial-strength vacuum cleaner.
  • Then the same suction action which created the vacuum also serves to keep the prey trapped there.
  • He answers that it possibly could be done by taking advantage of gravitational vacuum fluctuations.
  • One was the space suits astronauts wear when working in the vacuum and extreme temperatures in outer space.
  • Under the right conditions, a partial vacuum, you can form diamonds.
British Dictionary definitions for vacuum


noun (pl) vacuums, vacua (ˈvækjʊə)
a region containing no matter; free space Compare plenum (sense 3)
a region in which gas is present at a low pressure
the degree of exhaustion of gas within an enclosed space: a high vacuum, a perfect vacuum
a sense or feeling of emptiness: his death left a vacuum in her life
short for vacuum cleaner
(modifier) of, containing, measuring, producing, or operated by a low gas pressure: a vacuum tube, a vacuum brake
to clean (something) with a vacuum cleaner: to vacuum a carpet
Word Origin
C16: from Latin: an empty space, from vacuus empty
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for vacuum

1540s, "emptiness of space," from Latin vacuum "an empty space, void," noun use of neuter of vacuus "empty," related to vacare "be empty" (see vain). Properly a loan-translation of Greek kenon, literally "that which is empty." Meaning "a place emptied of air" is attested from 1650s. Vacuum tube is attested from 1859. Vacuum cleaner is from 1903; shortened form vacuum (n.) first recorded 1910.


"to clean with a vacuum cleaner," 1922; see vacuum (n.). Related: Vacuumed; vacuuming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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vacuum in Medicine

vacuum vac·u·um (vāk'yōō-əm, -yōōm, -yəm)
n. pl. vac·u·ums or vac·u·a (-yōō-ə)

  1. Absence of matter.

  2. A space empty of matter.

  3. A space relatively empty of matter.

  4. A space in which the pressure is significantly lower than atmospheric pressure.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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vacuum in Science
Plural vacuums or vacuua
  1. A region of space in which there is no matter.

  2. A region of space having extremely low gas pressure relative to surrounding pressure. The air pump of a vacuum cleaner, for example, drastically reduces the air pressure inside the device, creating a vacuum; the pressure difference causes air to rush into it, carrying dust and debris along with it.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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vacuum in Culture

vacuum definition

The absence of matter.

Note: In the natural world, air will flow into regions of vacuum, giving rise to the saying “Nature abhors a vacuum.”
Note: The saying is extended informally: in politics, a lack of leadership may be referred to as a vacuum, which will presumably be filled by others rushing in.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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