adjective vac·u·ous \ ˈva-kyə-wəs \
|Updated on: 5 Jul 2018

Definition of vacuous

1 : emptied of or lacking content
2 : marked by lack of ideas or intelligence : stupid, inane
  • a vacuous mind
  • a vacuous movie
3 : devoid of serious occupation : idle





vacuous was our Word of the Day on 12/29/2012. Hear the podcast!

Examples of vacuous in a Sentence

  1. a dull and vacuous movie

  2. He had a vacuous expression on his face.

Recent Examples of vacuous from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vacuous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

As you might have guessed, "vacuous" shares the same root as "vacuum"-the Latin adjective vacuus, meaning "empty." This root also gave us the noun "vacuity" (the oldest meaning of which is "an empty space") as well as the verb "evacuate" (originally meaning "to empty of contents"). Its predecessor, the verb "vacare," is also an ancestor of the words "vacation" and "vacancy" as well as "void." All of these words suggest an emptiness of space, or else a fleeing of people or things from one place to another. "Vacuous" appeared in English in the middle of the 17th century, at first literally describing something that was empty. It acquired its figurative usage, describing one who is lacking any substance of the mind, in the mid-1800s.

Origin and Etymology of vacuous

Latin vacuus "empty, unoccupied, idle" + -ous — more at 1vacuum

Synonym Discussion of vacuous

empty, vacant, blank, void, vacuous mean lacking contents which could or should be present. empty suggests a complete absence of contents.
    • an empty bucket
vacant suggests an absence of appropriate contents or occupants.
    • a vacant apartment
blank stresses the absence of any significant, relieving, or intelligible features on a surface.
    • a blank wall
void suggests absolute emptiness as far as the mind or senses can determine.
    • a statement void of meaning
vacuous suggests the emptiness of a vacuum and especially the lack of intelligence or significance.
    • a vacuous facial expression

VACUOUS Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of vacuous for English Language Learners

  • : having or showing a lack of intelligence or serious thought : lacking meaning, importance, or substance

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up vacuous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


one who attends or assists a leader

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Test Your Emoji Exceptionalism

  • test-your-emoji-exceptionalism-written-with-a-lot-of-emoji
  • What is this emoji intended to represent: 🤳
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!