Avocation and Vocation

Commonly Confused Words

Although these two nouns look and sound similar, their meanings are not the same.

Definitions

An avocation is a hobby or any other activity taken up in addition to one's regular work.

A vocation is one's principal occupation or a calling to a particular way of life or course of action.

Examples

  • Michel Roux is the chef of a London restaurant by profession and a marathon runner by avocation.
  • "Joan Feigenbaum . . . was delighted when she found her true vocation in the Summer Research Program at AT&T's famous Bell Labs."
    (Notable Women in Mathematics: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. by Charlene Morrow and Teri Perl. Greenwood, 1998)
     
  • "Music was the only vocation anyone had ever heard of for a blind child, and the church took up a collection of pennies and nickels to buy Pilgrim a fiddle."
    (Michael Crummey, Sweetland. Liveright, 2015) 

     

Practice

(a) After retiring from teaching, my father decided to focus on his longtime _____ of juggling.

(b) "By outward account Simone Weil was a failure several times over, yet in her true _____ as a writer she succeeded brilliantly."
(Thomas R. Nevin, Simone Weil: Portrait of a Self-Exiled Jew. The University of North Carolina Press, 1991) 

 

Answers to Practice Exercises

Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words

Answers to Practice Exercises: Avocation and Vocation

 

(a) After retiring from teaching, my father decided to focus on his longtime avocation of juggling.

(b) "By outward account Simone Weil was a failure several times over, yet in her true vocation as a writer she succeeded brilliantly."
(Thomas R. Nevin, Simone Weil: Portrait of a Self-Exiled Jew. The University of North Carolina Press, 1991) 
 

Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words