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



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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

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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 The gap has filled up with useless, vacuous swill of the sort that Tom Barrack dispensed in 2016 and 2017. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 21 July 2021 The theory holds that our increasingly vacuous cosmos will eventually produce a singularity, a rupture in spacetime similar to the big bang. John Horgan, Scientific American, 16 June 2021 Here comes Clinton Heylin to hew a path through the trash heap of vacuous biographies and inferior works. John Semley, The New Republic, 26 May 2021 For example, sometimes the objectors proffer nothing other than vacuous statements that land as hollow accusations without any substantive foundation. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 5 Apr. 2021 Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, and Chris Redd are the vacuous, partying contestants guessing which spring breaker has the COVID-19 vaccination. Andy Hoglund,, 28 Mar. 2021 Unlike the vacuous domes now home to Final Fours, this perspective is known to help shooters find their touch. Michael Casagrande |, al, 27 Mar. 2021 The first order of business was transforming the vacuous, 40-foot-tall storefront space on the building’s eastern exposure. Anna Fixsen, ELLE Decor, 24 Mar. 2021 Aimless talks, empty calls for dialogue, and vacuous condemnation would do very little for Myanmar’s people. Brian Wong, Fortune, 25 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for vacuous

Time Traveler

The first known use of vacuous was circa 1660

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Last Updated

25 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Vacuous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Aug. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on vacuous

Nglish: Translation of vacuous for Spanish Speakers


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