vacuum

noun
vac·​u·​um | \ ˈva-(ˌ)kyüm How to pronounce vacuum (audio) , -kyəm also -kyü-əm How to pronounce vacuum (audio) \
plural vacuums or vacua\ ˈva-​kyə-​wə How to pronounce vacua (audio) \

Definition of vacuum

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : emptiness of space
2a : a space absolutely devoid of matter
b : a space partially exhausted (as to the highest degree possible) by artificial means (such as an air pump)
c : a degree of rarefaction below atmospheric pressure
3a : a state or condition resembling a vacuum : void the power vacuum in Indochina after the departure of the French— Norman Cousins
b : a state of isolation from outside influences people who live in a vacuum … so that the world outside them is of no moment— W. S. Maugham
4 : a device creating or utilizing a partial vacuum especially : vacuum cleaner

vacuum

verb
vacuumed; vacuuming; vacuums

Definition of vacuum (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to use a vacuum device (such as a vacuum cleaner) on vacuum the living room
2 : to draw or take in by or as if by suction

intransitive verb

: to operate a vacuum device

vacuum

adjective

Definition of vacuum (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : of, containing, producing, or utilizing a partial vacuum separated by means of vacuum distillation
2 : of or relating to a vacuum device or system

Examples of vacuum in a Sentence

Noun

the vacuum of outer space A pump was used to create a vacuum inside the bottle.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Investors have good reason to feel downbeat about the eurozone, while a leadership vacuum is likely to make Washington question how reliable Europe is as an economic and diplomatic partner. Matthew Goodwin, WSJ, "Europe’s Populists Are Here to Stay," 14 June 2019 According to quantum mechanics, a vacuum isn’t completely empty; rather, it’s filled with quantum fluctuations. Quanta Magazine, "‘Quantum Atmospheres’ May Reveal Secrets of Matter," 25 Sep. 2018 As the Warriors recede, new powerhouses will emerge, and chances are good that the team or teams filling that vacuum will have superstar big men. Andrew Sharp, SI.com, "The NBA Draft and the Impossible Standards of the Warriors Era," 20 June 2018 In that vacuum, individual and regional interests prevailed. Jonathan Lai, Philly.com, "Pa. gerrymandering's surprise co-conspirators: Democrats," 29 Apr. 2018 This vacuum has, as is often the case with this White House, triggered fierce internecine scrapping among those vying for Trump's ear. Anchorage Daily News, "Trump dismisses midterm threat, alarming GOP," 28 Apr. 2018 On multiple occasions, the woman was forced to eat leftover scraps of food, humiliated in front of her daughters and threatened with whippings with a vacuum cord, the indictment states. Alejandra Reyes-velarde, latimes.com, "California couple abused Guatemalan immigrants, forcing them to work, prosecutors say," 25 June 2019 There is a shortage of about 100,000 teachers nationwide, said Tara Kini, the director of state policy for the Learning Policy Institute, and addressing that vacuum continues to be a massive drain on resources. NBC News, "Mississippi loses hundreds of teachers due to licensing issue, underscoring national problem," 25 June 2019 Simply run the steamer over your mattress’s fabric to kill dust mites on the surface, then do a few passes with a vacuum. The Good Housekeeping Institute, Good Housekeeping, "GH Seal Spotlight: Conair ExtremeSteam Handheld Fabric Steamer," 24 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Between 2016 and 2026, this tax was projected to vacuum $43.3 billion from the pockets of mainly modest-income Americans. Deroy Murdock, National Review, "Democratic Presidential Contenders Prescribe Big Government Snake Oil," 11 July 2019 Booms were placed around the foam coming from the MDC facility on Sunday and a contractor hired by Signature Flight has been attempting to vacuum up as much of the chemical foam as possible. Gregory B. Hladky, courant.com, "State dredging of Farmington River spill pollution possible, official says," 14 June 2019 Then Carla proceeds to vacuum the interior compartments of each suitcase. Luzanne Otte, Town & Country, "Patricia Altschul's Very Specific Guide to Traveling in Style," 18 May 2019 Make sure to vacuum carpets once a week with a device that has a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Colleen Stinchcombe, SELF, "Here Are 9 Ways to Deal With a Pet Allergy If You Love Animals," 30 Nov. 2018 Despite all of these red flags, Harvey Weinstein continued to vacuum up everything in sight. John Clark, latimes.com, "The indie film world reacts to the fall of the house of Weinstein," 31 May 2018 Or how about trying to vacuum the dog hair and crumbs off the couch? Samantha Gordon, USA TODAY, "These are the 5 best deals on Amazon right now," 19 Apr. 2018 Privacy and security activists have long argued that as law enforcement vacuums up more data without legal limits, the damage of a possible breach scales up. Sidney Fussell, The Atlantic, "The CBP Breach Was Inevitable," 11 June 2019 Let that sit on your mattress for 30 minutes then vacuum it off. Timothy Dahl, Popular Mechanics, "How to Clean a Mattress," 15 Feb. 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of vacuum

Noun

1550, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1922, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Adjective

1825, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vacuum

Noun

borrowed from Medieval Latin (translation of Greek kenón), from neuter of Latin vacuus "empty, unoccupied," from vacāre "to be empty or unoccupied, have space, be free" + -uus, deverbal adjective suffix — more at vacant

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about vacuum

Statistics for vacuum

Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vacuum

The first known use of vacuum was in 1550

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for vacuum

vacuum

noun

English Language Learners Definition of vacuum

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an empty space in which there is no air or other gas : a space from which all or most of the air has been removed
: a situation created when an important person or thing has gone and has not been replaced

vacuum

verb

English Language Learners Definition of vacuum (Entry 2 of 2)

: to clean (something) with a vacuum cleaner

vacuum

noun
vac·​u·​um | \ ˈva-ˌkyüm How to pronounce vacuum (audio) \
plural vacuums or vacua\ -​kyə-​wə \

Kids Definition of vacuum

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a space completely empty of matter
2 : a space from which most of the air has been removed (as by a pump)

vacuum

verb
vacuumed; vacuuming

Kids Definition of vacuum (Entry 2 of 2)

: to use a vacuum cleaner on She's vacuuming the carpet.

vacuum

noun
vac·​u·​um | \ ˈvak-(ˌ)yüm How to pronounce vacuum (audio) , -yu̇-əm How to pronounce vacuum (audio) , -yəm\
plural vacuums or vacua\ -​yə-​wə How to pronounce vacua (audio) \

Medical Definition of vacuum

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : emptiness of space
2a : a space absolutely devoid of matter
b : a space partially exhausted (as to the highest degree possible) by artificial means (as an air pump)
c : a degree of rarefaction below atmospheric pressure : negative pressure

vacuum

adjective

Medical Definition of vacuum (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of, containing, producing, or utilizing a partial vacuum separated by means of vacuum distillation
2 : of or relating to a vacuum device or system

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on vacuum

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for vacuum

Spanish Central: Translation of vacuum

Nglish: Translation of vacuum for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of vacuum for Arabic Speakers

Comments on vacuum

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

WORD OF THE DAY

food or victuals

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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