noun, plural vac·u·ums for 1, 2, 4–6, vac·u·a [vak-yoo-uh] /ˈvæk yu ə/ for 1, 2, 4, 6.
- a space entirely devoid of matter.
- 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).
- the state or degree of exhaustion in such an enclosed space.
- a space not filled or occupied; emptiness; void: The loss left a vacuum in his heart.
- a vacuum cleaner or sweeper.
- Physics. a state of lowest energy in a quantum field theory.
- of, pertaining to, employing, or producing a vacuum.
- (of a hollow container) partly exhausted of gas or air.
- pertaining to a device or process that makes use of a vacuum to accomplish a desired task.
- 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)
- to use a vacuum cleaner on; clean with a vacuum cleaner: to vacuum rugs.
- to treat with any vacuum device, as a vacuum drier.
verb (used without object)
- to use a vacuum cleaner: to vacuum in the dining room.
noun plural vacuums or vacua (ˈvækjʊə)
- a region containing no matter; free spaceCompare plenum (def. 3)
- a region in which gas is present at a low pressure
- the degree of exhaustion of gas within an enclosed spacea high vacuum; a perfect vacuum
- a sense or feeling of emptinesshis death left a vacuum in her life
- short for vacuum cleaner
- (modifier) of, containing, measuring, producing, or operated by a low gas pressurea vacuum tube; a vacuum brake
- 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
- Absence of matter.
- A space empty of matter.
- A space relatively empty of matter.
- A space in which the pressure is significantly lower than atmospheric pressure.
Plural vacuums vacuua
- A region of space in which there is no matter.
- 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.