They both are cognates (it can be easily proved by many etymological sources). The question is : Is it possible to consider VAC as a common root for evacuate and vacuum (we may go further - vacation, vacancy, vacuous etc.).

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2 Answers 2


Clearly they are related through Latin, from e- and vacare (out of and to empty) and from vacuus (empty), and in Latin the shared morpheme is vac-.

More interesting may be the relationships with vain, vast and waste which have similar origins in Latin or proto-Indo-European, but which have more specific meanings in modern English.

  • Basically, all these words have roots in Latin, but no real root in English, am I right?
    – Thursagen
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 11:34
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    @Ham and Bacon: There are words like evacuated and vacuumed which might have been produced in English. There are shortenings such as evac and vac which can mean much the same thing, and at some stage the shortenings may be expanded into something else. Essentially the words came into English fully formed but productive.
    – Henry
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 11:43

Going further back, these words all ultimately derive from the Proto-Indo-European root *euə- which has the english gloss to lack, want; empty, vacant.

So ultimately this includes many words including: vanish, want, vanity, wane, void, waste and even devastate.

Reference: http://www.utexas.edu/cola/centers/lrc/ielex/X/P0528.html

  • I think, if all these words were in PIE then we would think of them as of allomorphs of PIE*euə-. They all may be regarded as cognates now. And one would doubt the fact they they are all formed from one common root (but each case must be analyzed of course).
    – subic
    Commented Jun 16, 2011 at 17:17

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