Vacuum Definition and Examples

What Is a Vacuum?

This vacuum tube contains very low pressure inside the glass.
This vacuum tube contains very low pressure inside the glass. luxxtek, Getty Images

Vacuum Definition

A vacuum is a volume that encloses little or no matter. In other words, it is a region that has a gaseous pressure much lower than that of atmospheric pressure.
A partial vacuum is a vacuum with low amounts of matter enclosed. A total, perfect, or absolute vacuum has no matter enclosed. Sometimes this type of vacuum is referred to as "free space."

The term vacuum comes from the Latin vacuus, which means empty. Vacuus, in turn, comes from the word vacare, which means "be empty."

Common Misspellings

vaccum, vaccuum, vacuume

Vacuum Examples

  • Vacuum tubes are devices, usually made of glass, that contain very low gas pressures inside the tube.
  • Space is considered a vacuum. Space does contains matter, but the pressure is much lower than what you would find on a planet, for example.
  • A vacuum cleaner sucks up debris because it creates a pressure difference between the area to be cleaned and the suction tube.
  • Your lungs intake air when your diaphragm drops, creating a partial vacuum in the alveoli of the lungs, causing air to rush in.
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Your Citation
Helmenstine, Todd. "Vacuum Definition and Examples." ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2020, Helmenstine, Todd. (2020, August 25). Vacuum Definition and Examples. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Todd. "Vacuum Definition and Examples." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 28, 2023).