vac·​u·​ous | \ ˈva-kyə-wəs How to pronounce vacuous (audio) \

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

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Other Words from vacuous

vacuously adverb
vacuousness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for vacuous


bare, blank, clean, devoid, empty, stark, toom [chiefly Scottish], vacant, void



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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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.

Examples of vacuous in a Sentence

a dull and vacuous movie He had a vacuous expression on his face.

Recent Examples on the Web

Get our daily newsletter Many foreign leaders have realised that Mr Trump enjoys vacuous flattery. The Economist, "Trump Heights, Binyamin Netanyahu’s tribute to America’s president," 22 June 2019 Will the Oscars turn into a political rally as actor after vacuous actor denounces the Republican Party? Gerard Baker, WSJ, "Resolutions, Predictions and Other Exercises in Futility," 28 Dec. 2018 Others of us wanted to believe a megalomaniacal celebrity who married into a vacuous reality-television family was a counterculture revolutionary capable of making a nouveau black power album. T.d. Williams, The Root, "How the West Was Lost," 26 Apr. 2018 Meanwhile, the vacuous Nasir, Nas’s first album since his 2012 post-divorce record, Life Is Good, neglected to address the fact that ex-wife, Kelis, had recounted details of Nas’s alleged abuse just weeks prior to the album’s release. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "Teyana Taylor’s Music Has Matured, but Has Her Label?," 25 June 2018 Whether Barbie is a propagandist tool for unrealistic expectations or merely a reflection of an already existing blond, white, skinny and somewhat vacuous ideal is not really something the film confronts head-on. John Anderson, WSJ, "‘Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie’ Review: A Brand Tries to Doll Up Its Image," 26 Apr. 2018 Still, in terms of actual positive outcomes, the Singapore summit was little more than a vacuous photo op. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "The Singapore summit was better than nuclear bluster but otherwise empty.," 12 June 2018 Now, a new rough beast, bare vacuous reality-TV ambition, lurched its slow thighs toward Boston to be reborn. Rebecca Schuman, Longreads, "When ‘The Real World’ Gave Up on Reality," 6 June 2018 Both sell a vacuous simulacrum of a lifestyle that does not match up with reality. T.d. Williams, The Root, "How the West Was Lost," 26 Apr. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of vacuous

circa 1660, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vacuous

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

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Statistics for vacuous

Last Updated

5 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for vacuous

The first known use of vacuous was circa 1660

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More Definitions for vacuous



English Language Learners Definition of vacuous

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on vacuous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for vacuous

Spanish Central: Translation of vacuous

Nglish: Translation of vacuous for Spanish Speakers

Comments on vacuous

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


something desired as essential

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