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

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Fri Feb 3 21:33:08 UTC 2006

On 2/3/06, Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
> 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").

Or maybe it's just a continuation of OED sense 4c:

U.S. To give up work for a time; to take a holiday or vacation.
1836 Knickerbocker VII. 15 Ned and I were vacating..at his father's
charming residence. 1885 Advance (Chicago) 23 July 476 One thing he [a
Chinaman] can never learn, and that is how to vacate.

--Ben Zimmer

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

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