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[vey-kuh nt] /ˈveɪ kənt/
having no contents; empty; void:
a vacant niche.
having no occupant; unoccupied:
no vacant seats on this train.
not in use:
a vacant room.
devoid of thought or reflection:
a vacant mind.
characterized by, showing, or proceeding from lack of thought or intelligence:
a vacant answer; a vacant expression on a face.
not occupied by an incumbent, official, or the like, as a benefice or office.
free from work, business, activity, etc.:
vacant hours.
characterized by or proceeding from absence of occupation:
a vacant life.
devoid or destitute (often followed by of):
He was vacant of human sympathy.
  1. having no tenant and devoid of furniture, fixtures, etc. (distinguished from unoccupied):
    a vacant house.
  2. idle or unutilized; open to any claimant, as land.
  3. without an incumbent; having no heir or claimant; abandoned:
    a vacant estate.
Origin of vacant
1250-1300; Middle English < Latin vacant- (stem of vacāns, present participle of vacāre to be empty); see -ant
Related forms
vacantly, adverb
vacantness, noun
nonvacant, adjective
nonvacantly, adverb
unvacant, adjective
unvacantly, adverb
Can be confused
vacant, vacuous, vapid.
1, 2. See empty. 5. blank, vacuous, inane. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for vacantly
Historical Examples
  • The pen dropped from Darnay's fingers on the table, and he looked about him vacantly.

    A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens
  • He gazed at her vacantly, and, becoming reassured by degrees, burst into a wild laugh.

    Barnaby Rudge Charles Dickens
  • "Better than all the world," echoed Ralph vacantly, and with something like a sigh.

  • He looked at her vacantly, and caught sight of her outstretched hands.

    Blazed Trail Stories Stewart Edward White
  • He gazed at her vacantly, and she began to regret her vehemence.

    The Lion's Brood

    Duffield Osborne
  • She passed the envelope to him, and stared at him vacantly while he examined it.

    The Guardian Angel Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  • Smith felt hopelessly in his pocket, and then looked at her vacantly.

    The Toilers of the Field Richard Jefferies
  • “I dun know, massa,” said Moses, looking round him vacantly.

    Blown to Bits R.M. Ballantyne
  • He stared at it vacantly, turning it now this way, now that.

    To Have and To Hold Mary Johnston
  • She closed her mouth firmly for a moment and looked him vacantly in the face.

    The Sleuth of St. James's Square Melville Davisson Post
British Dictionary definitions for vacantly


without any contents; empty
(postpositive) foll by of. devoid (of something specified)
having no incumbent; unoccupied: a vacant post
having no tenant or occupant: a vacant house
characterized by or resulting from lack of thought or intelligent awareness: a vacant stare
(of time, etc) not allocated to any activity: a vacant hour in one's day
spent in idleness or inactivity: a vacant life
(law) (of an estate, etc) having no heir or claimant
Derived Forms
vacantly, adverb
vacantness, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Latin vacāre to be empty
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for vacantly



late 13c., from Old French vacant, from Latin vacantem (nominative vacans), present participle of vacare "to be empty" (see vain). Related: Vacantly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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