vo·​ca·​tion | \ vō-ˈkā-shən How to pronounce vocation (audio) \

Definition of vocation

1a : a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action especially : a divine call to the religious life
b : an entry into the priesthood or a religious order
2a : the work in which a person is employed : occupation
b : the persons engaged in a particular occupation
3 : the special function of an individual or group

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of vocation in a Sentence

This isn't just a job for me; it's a vocation. people who follow a religious vocation He never felt a real sense of vocation. I'm a carpenter by vocation, but my hobby is painting.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Still, the more scientific understanding of fire science has shifted firefighting from a vocation to a profession. Hillary Davis, latimes.com, "Fire Chief Chip Duncan to retire after 32 years serving Newport Beach," 12 July 2019 Lunn said teaching is a vocation forever etched into her life, and retirement is all about making the most of her new routine outside the classroom. Mel Jimenez, Houston Chronicle, "When it comes to retirement, it’s all about balance," 21 June 2019 In the long years of Nazi assault and occupation, resistance was often a lonely and certainly unrewarded vocation. Sonia Purnell, Twin Cities, "Sonia Purnell: What D-Day teaches us about the difficulty – and importance – of resistance," 6 June 2019 Crucially, though, Harbart doesn’t see his vocation as a fraud. John Domini, chicagotribune.com, "‘Harbat’: Speaking to the dead, the living — and now Americans, too," 7 Aug. 2019 Father David Garcia’s life and vocation have been all about relationships — and miracles large and small. Scott Huddleston, ExpressNews.com, "Father David’s role grew from San Antonio parish priest to major community leader," 8 July 2019 Peter’s loyalty to his friends — a sweet, spirited crew embodying the tolerance, skepticism and earnestness that characterize their generation, as well as some of its less appealing aspects — is sometimes at odds with his vocation. New York Times, "Review: ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ Is the Latest Iron Man Movie," 27 June 2019 His first inspiration for a vocation to the Priesthood was nurtured by the faith of his Catholic parents and the priests and nuns at Our Lady Queen of Apostles Church and Grade School in Hamtramck, Michigan. sun-sentinel.com, "Deaths in South Florida: 7/7," 7 July 2019 Monet grew up here and painted in the open air with the older artist Eugène Boudin, so discovering his vocation for capturing light and atmosphere. National Geographic, "Step into Impressionist paintings on this French tour," 17 Apr. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vocation.' 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 vocation

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for vocation

Middle English vocacioun, from Anglo-French vocaciun, from Latin vocation-, vocatio summons, from vocare to call, from vox voice — more at voice

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about vocation

Listen to Our Podcast about vocation

Statistics for vocation

Last Updated

2 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vocation

The first known use of vocation was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for vocation



English Language Learners Definition of vocation

: a strong desire to spend your life doing a certain kind of work (such as religious work)
: the work that a person does or should be doing


vo·​ca·​tion | \ vō-ˈkā-shən How to pronounce vocation (audio) \

Kids Definition of vocation

1 : a strong desire for a certain career or course of action It was her vocation to be an actress.
2 : the work in which a person is regularly employed : occupation

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on vocation

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with vocation

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for vocation

Spanish Central: Translation of vocation

Nglish: Translation of vocation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of vocation for Arabic Speakers

Comments on vocation

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


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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!