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verb (used with object), e·vac·u·at·ed, e·vac·u·at·ing.
  1. to leave empty; vacate.
  2. to remove (persons or things) from a place, as a dangerous place or disaster area, for reasons of safety or protection: to evacuate the inhabitants of towns in the path of a flood.
  3. to remove persons from (a city, town, building, area, etc.) for reasons of safety: to evacuate the embassy after a bomb threat.
  4. Military.
    1. to remove (troops, wounded soldiers, civilians, etc.) from a war zone, combat area, etc.
    2. to withdraw from or quit (a town, fort, etc., that has been occupied).
  5. Physiology. to discharge or eject as through the excretory passages, especially from the bowels.
  6. to deprive: Fear evacuated their minds of reason.
  7. to produce a vacuum in.
verb (used without object), e·vac·u·at·ed, e·vac·u·at·ing.
  1. to leave a place because of military or other threats.
  2. to void; defecate.

Origin of evacuate

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin ēvacuātus (past participle of ēvacuāre to empty out, equivalent to ē- e-1 + vacuāre to empty); see vacuum, -ate1
Related formsre·e·vac·u·ate, verb, re·e·vac·u·at·ed, re·e·vac·u·at·ing.un·e·vac·u·at·ed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for evacuate


verb (mainly tr)
  1. (also intr) to withdraw or cause to withdraw from (a place of danger) to a place of greater safety
  2. to make empty by removing the contents of
  3. (also intr) physiol
    1. to eliminate or excrete (faeces); defecate
    2. to discharge (any waste product) from (a part of the body)
  4. (tr) to create a vacuum in (a bulb, flask, reaction vessel, etc)
Derived Formsevacuation, nounevacuative, adjectiveevacuator, noun

Word Origin for evacuate

C16: from Latin ēvacuāre to void, from vacuus 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

Word Origin and History for evacuate

1520s, from Latin evacuatus, past participle of evacuare "to empty, make void, nullify," used by Pliny in reference to the bowels, used figuratively in Late Latin for "clear out," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + vacuus "empty" (see vacuum).

Earliest sense in English is medical. Meaning "remove inhabitants to safer ground" is from 1934. Replaced Middle English evacuen (c.1400). Related: Evacuated; evacuating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

evacuate in Medicine


  1. To empty or remove the contents of.
  2. To excrete or discharge waste matter, especially of the bowels.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.