"Vacate,' v = "vacation," v?

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Fri Feb 3 21:28:22 UTC 2006

Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> Heard in passing (black male ca.25 years old):
> "I got laid off, so I though that I would just vacate for a while."

Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at yahoo.com> wrote:
> A little voice tells me he meant "go away" for a while.  When a place is
> vacated, the people go away.

If there's a semantic shift from trans. 'empty (a place)'  to intrans.
'leave (from a place)', perhaps it's analogized from the double sense
of "evacuate" (cf. also "clear out").

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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