Definition of vacuum in US English:



  • 1A space entirely devoid of matter.

    • ‘Studying the plasma, scientists could expose the fundamental nature of matter and the vacuum that permeates the cosmos.’
    • ‘Operating in the near vacuum of space, ion engines shoot out the propellant gas much faster than the jet of a chemical rocket.’
    • ‘He suggested that in the first split second after the beginning, the vacuum of the Universe existed in a highly energetic state, as allowed by the quantum rules, but unstable.’
    • ‘A jet engine requires oxygen from the atmosphere for combustion, and so cannot operate in the vacuum of space.’
    • ‘One doesn't determine the temperature of a vacuum.’
    • ‘The vacuum triggers dark energy to materialize into matter and radiation in another Big Bang, refreshing the cycle of expansion.’
    • ‘They operate like any rocket engine in the vacuum of space, by propelling gases in one direction to create an opposite and equal force on the craft.’
    • ‘In the near vacuum of space, they travel along together.’
    • ‘He conceived of the Void as a vacuum, an infinite space in which moved an infinite number of atoms that made up Being.’
    • ‘The absence of light, a void, a vacuum, nothingness is so extraordinary that it can only be part of the pre-creation world.’
    • ‘Dangers in the lunar environment include radiation, extreme temperatures, and the vacuum of space.’
    • ‘In the old days of classical mechanics the idea of a vacuum was simple.’
    • ‘Not only was the cosmos expanding, but a repulsive pressure within the vacuum of space was also causing the expansion to accelerate.’
    • ‘Just as nature is said to abhor a vacuum, it abhors true altruism.’
    • ‘Cass is a physicist who wants the final confirmation of the theory by creating a perfect vacuum, the conditions under which the original Big Bang occurred.’
    • ‘The expansion of helium into a vacuum corresponds to a significant change in entropy but to a trivial change in energy.’
    • ‘I am curious as to exactly when scientists found out that space is a vacuum and not made up of ether?’
    • ‘Radiation, for example, is the only method by which internal energy can be transferred through a vacuum.’
    • ‘A vacuum, which is not spatial, that is, a vacuum which does not even contain space, does not exist, and has never existed!’
    • ‘Since by definition it contains no matter, the vacuum of space itself has NO temperature.’
    empty space, emptiness, void, nothingness, vacuity, vacancy
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    1. 1.1 A space or container from which the air has been completely or partly removed.
      • ‘The partial vacuum in the chamber will cause the instrument to register, say, 35,000 feet when it is, in fact, only a few hundred feet above sea level.’
      • ‘The oxygen used by the lighted flame created the vacuum.’
      • ‘The old lamps burned in groups of nine or ten, whilst the new were in pairs and instead of burning in the air the carbon was in a chamber in which there was a partial vacuum.’
      • ‘The chamber was then put into a vacuum overnight to remove any remaining trace of organic solvent.’
      • ‘He creates a vacuum in a glass container, and places one atom of carbon into it.’
      • ‘After venting to release the vacuum, he removed the detector flange.’
    2. 1.2usually in singular A gap left by the loss, death, or departure of someone or something formerly playing a significant part in a situation or activity.
      ‘the political vacuum left by the death of the Emperor’
      • ‘Because he has held the reins of power so tightly and for so long, there were predictions that his departure would leave a vacuum of power and generate chaos.’
      • ‘The apparently spontaneous nature of the uprising has created a political vacuum which may be hard to fill.’
      • ‘He is already looking ahead to other ideas to fill the vacuum which was created in Ripon when it lost 800 students and an estimated £4.5m a year from the city's economy.’
      • ‘The vacuum created by his death 24 years back still remains unfilled.’
      • ‘The Greens hope to exploit the resulting political vacuum to take over the " balance of power " in parliament.’
      • ‘Perhaps the existential angst of one man is also meant as a reflection on the moral vacuum at the heart of a country partly known for its kidnapping, crime and corruption.’
      • ‘There will not be a security vacuum in that area at any time.’
      • ‘We hope that this denomination will be faithful to God and will fill the spiritual vacuum left by liberalism.’
      • ‘In that sense, globalization has indeed created a huge spiritual vacuum.’
      • ‘The resulting vacuum of leadership left space for new peace leaders.’
      • ‘There can't be a moral vacuum at the heart of this.’
      • ‘The political vacuum could be filled as early as Wednesday but leaders are prepared for much longer discussions if the rank and file throw out their recommendations.’
      • ‘A political vacuum must be avoided at all costs.’
      • ‘In such a vacuum of political criticism, one might expect national newspaper columnists to step in and make coherent remarks upon government policy.’
      • ‘The loss of those 37,000 troops will create a power vacuum, as happened at the turn of the 19th century.’
      • ‘A Council spokesman assured residents services would be unaffected by the political vacuum.’
      • ‘In rural Scotland the retiral of a sitting MP always creates a vacuum which other political parties rush to fill.’
      • ‘Parliamentary elections in 2001 were easy because in 1999 it was obvious that there was a political vacuum needing to be filled in the society.’
      • ‘The vacuum created by their departure was filled by the club's most committed supporters, who set about raising money and bringing the club back from the brink.’
      • ‘The Bill addresses a regulatory vacuum which exists at national and international levels.’
      gap, space, absence, lack, deficiency, blank, lacuna
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  • 2A vacuum cleaner.

    • ‘Best for those with allergies or asthma, these vacuums contain filters to clean the air.’
    • ‘A brush will remove some dust if you do not have a vacuum, but will also scatter dust around.’
    • ‘Use the wand attachment on a vacuum to remove all dust.’
    • ‘After the surface has dried, use a vacuum to remove the powder that is created by etching.’
    • ‘This is a combination stick and handheld (dust buster style) vacuum and is proving to be perfect for my small apartment.’
    • ‘It would be another ten years before the electric vacuum, iron, and frying pan became available as consumer products.’
    • ‘Use a shop vacuum to remove all remaining dirt from the cracks to be filled.’
    • ‘The noise of the vacuum was entirely drowned out by the undistinguishable howls and screams of some rock singer.’
    • ‘Distractions such as rattles, music, or even running a vacuum, washing machine, or blow-dryer may be amusing or comforting to your baby.’
    • ‘A stump grinder was on hand, and two high-powered vacuums sucked up leaves.’
    vacuum cleaner
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[with object]
  • Clean with a vacuum cleaner.

    ‘the room needs to be vacuumed’
    • ‘As she was vacuuming the floor and thinking about the trip, the phone rang.’
    • ‘Harriet vacuumed the carpet and dusted the living room.’
    • ‘The carpets were vacuumed and the bathroom was completely scrubbed clean.’
    • ‘Before washing, dust or vacuum walls to remove loose soil.’
    • ‘I'm putting extra zeal into my scrubbing, dusting, vacuuming and cleaning.’
    • ‘You avoid vacuuming the house as long as possible because your dog is afraid of the vacuum cleaner.’
    • ‘A truck comes and vacuums out the tanks every month.’
    • ‘Kids don't care if the room has been vacuumed and cleaned.’
    • ‘Next thing we know he'll be vacuuming the floor and dusting the shelves.’
    • ‘Make sure that the school is vacuumed and dusted regularly, that it's routinely treated by a pest control company, and that it's completely smoke free.’
    • ‘I was just vacuuming the floor when I found a knife between the kitchen bench and the computer desk.’
    • ‘Apparently while I've been at work my son has cleaned up the house, even vacuuming it!’
    • ‘Sand slowly so you don't go through the veneer and vacuum frequently to remove dust.’
    • ‘How long can I ignore the fact that the living room hasn't been vacuumed all week?’
    • ‘I was sick of being the only one who vacuumed common areas, cleaned the bath and toilet or did a load of dishes without quibbling whether I'd eaten off them.’
    • ‘On Saturday he vacuumed and cleaned the kitchen.’
    • ‘I was just finishing up vacuuming the living room, when the phone rang.’
    • ‘Most people believe that vacuuming the carpet is essential for the control of head lice.’
    • ‘If this is just a musty smell, then vacuuming it out and masking it with potpourri or airing it out for a while might help.’
    • ‘Year in, year out, the display remained unchanged, though it was scrupulously vacuumed and dusted.’
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  • in a vacuum

    • (of an activity or a problem to be considered) isolated from the context normal to it and in which it can best be understood or assessed.

      • ‘It wasn't as though the summit occurred in a vacuum without any prior events.’
      • ‘Experts point out that illnesses do not occur in a vacuum but rather in the context of society.’
      • ‘We cannot exist in a vacuum, in isolation from what's happening in other parts of the world.’
      • ‘The problem is that an individual's work choices don't operate in a vacuum.’
      • ‘My point is that those comments were made in a certain historical era and not in a vacuum.’
      • ‘The important point is that politics does not operate in a vacuum.’
      • ‘After all, the governments don't operate in a vacuum, they are elected and supported by majorities.’
      • ‘While the film may be primarily an artistic statement, it does not exist like so much art, in a vacuum, but is placed firmly in context.’
      • ‘But what we must remember is that the decision to hold elections did not emerge in a vacuum.’
      • ‘All this artistic and scientific activity did not, of course, take place in a vacuum.’


Mid 16th century: modern Latin, neuter of Latin vacuus ‘empty’.