[ vak-yoom, -yoo-uhm, -yuhm ]
See synonyms for: vacuumvacuumedvacuuming on

noun,plural vac·u·ums for 1, 2, 4-6, vac·u·a [vak-yoo-uh] /ˈvæk yu ə/ for 1, 2, 4, 6.
  1. a space entirely devoid of matter.

  2. an enclosed space from which matter, especially air, has been partially removed so that the matter or gas remaining in the space exerts less pressure than the atmosphere (opposed to plenum).

  1. the state or degree of exhaustion in such an enclosed space.

  2. a space not filled or occupied; emptiness; void: The loss left a vacuum in his heart.

  3. a vacuum cleaner or sweeper.

  4. Physics. a state of lowest energy in a quantum field theory.

  1. of, pertaining to, employing, or producing a vacuum.

  2. (of a hollow container) partly exhausted of gas or air.

  1. pertaining to a device or process that makes use of a vacuum to accomplish a desired task.

  2. noting or pertaining to canning or packaging in which air is removed from the container to prevent deterioration of the contents.

verb (used with object)
  1. to use a vacuum cleaner on; clean with a vacuum cleaner: to vacuum rugs.

  2. to treat with any vacuum device, as a vacuum drier.

verb (used without object)
  1. to use a vacuum cleaner: to vacuum in the dining room.

Origin of vacuum

First recorded in 1540–50; from Latin, neuter of vacuus “empty”

Other words from vacuum

  • non·vac·u·um, adjective, noun, plural non·vac·u·ums, non·vac·u·a. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use vacuum in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for vacuum


/ (ˈvækjʊəm) /

nounplural vacuums or vacua (ˈvækjʊə)
  1. a region containing no matter; free space: Compare plenum (def. 3)

  2. a region in which gas is present at a low pressure

  1. the degree of exhaustion of gas within an enclosed space: a high vacuum; a perfect vacuum

  2. a sense or feeling of emptiness: his death left a vacuum in her life

  3. short for vacuum cleaner

  4. (modifier) of, containing, measuring, producing, or operated by a low gas pressure: a vacuum tube; a vacuum brake

  1. to clean (something) with a vacuum cleaner: to vacuum a carpet

Origin of vacuum

C16: from Latin: an empty space, 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

Scientific definitions for vacuum


[ văkyōōm ]

Plural vacuums vacuua
  1. A region of space in which there is no matter.

  2. A region of space having extremely low gas pressure relative to surrounding pressure. The air pump of a vacuum cleaner, for example, drastically reduces the air pressure inside the device, creating a vacuum; the pressure difference causes air to rush into it, carrying dust and debris along with it.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for vacuum


The absence of matter.

Notes for vacuum

In the natural world, air will flow into regions of vacuum, giving rise to the saying “Nature abhors a vacuum.”

Notes for vacuum

The saying is extended informally: in politics, a lack of leadership may be referred to as a vacuum, which will presumably be filled by others rushing in.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.