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).
  3. the state or degree of exhaustion in such an enclosed space.
  4. a space not filled or occupied; emptiness; void: The loss left a vacuum in his heart.
  5. a vacuum cleaner or sweeper.
  6. 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.
  3. pertaining to a device or process that makes use of a vacuum to accomplish a desired task.
  4. 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.

noun plural vacuums or vacua (ˈvækjʊə)

  1. a region containing no matter; free spaceCompare plenum (def. 3)
  2. a region in which gas is present at a low pressure
  3. the degree of exhaustion of gas within an enclosed spacea high vacuum; a perfect vacuum
  4. a sense or feeling of emptinesshis death left a vacuum in her life
  5. short for vacuum cleaner
  6. (modifier) of, containing, measuring, producing, or operated by a low gas pressurea vacuum tube; a vacuum brake


  1. to clean (something) with a vacuum cleanerto vacuum a carpet

1540s, “emptiness of space,” from Latin vacuum “an empty space, void,” noun use of neuter of vacuus “empty,” related to vacare “be empty” (see vain). Properly a loan-translation of Greek kenon, literally “that which is empty.” Meaning “a place emptied of air” is attested from 1650s. Vacuum tube is attested from 1859. Vacuum cleaner is from 1903; shortened form vacuum (n.) first recorded 1910.


“to clean with a vacuum cleaner,” 1922; see vacuum (n.). Related: Vacuumed; vacuuming.

n. pl. vac•u•ums

  1. Absence of matter.
  2. A space empty of matter.
  3. A space relatively empty of matter.
  4. A space in which the pressure is significantly lower than atmospheric pressure.

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 absence of matter.

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