[vey-kuh nt]
  1. having no contents; empty; void: a vacant niche.
  2. having no occupant; unoccupied: no vacant seats on this train.
  3. not in use: a vacant room.
  4. devoid of thought or reflection: a vacant mind.
  5. characterized by, showing, or proceeding from lack of thought or intelligence: a vacant answer; a vacant expression on a face.
  6. not occupied by an incumbent, official, or the like, as a benefice or office.
  7. free from work, business, activity, etc.: vacant hours.
  8. characterized by or proceeding from absence of occupation: a vacant life.
  9. devoid or destitute (often followed by of): He was vacant of human sympathy.
  10. Law.
    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 formsva·cant·ly, adverbva·cant·ness, nounnon·va·cant, adjectivenon·va·cant·ly, adverbun·va·cant, adjectiveun·va·cant·ly, adverb
Can be confusedvacant vacuous vapid

Synonyms for vacant

1, 2. See empty. 5. blank, vacuous, inane. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for vacantly

Historical Examples of vacantly

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for vacantly


  1. without any contents; empty
  2. (postpositive foll by of) devoid (of something specified)
  3. having no incumbent; unoccupieda vacant post
  4. having no tenant or occupanta vacant house
  5. characterized by or resulting from lack of thought or intelligent awarenessa vacant stare
  6. (of time, etc) not allocated to any activitya vacant hour in one's day
  7. spent in idleness or inactivitya vacant life
  8. law (of an estate, etc) having no heir or claimant
Derived Formsvacantly, adverbvacantness, noun

Word Origin for vacant

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

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