In the context of metallurgy and material science, there is a well-known process called differently but commonly "vacancy generation/annihilation" where a vacancy or void (or simply a tiny hole) is generated or annihilated in a piece of a material (due to some external factors such as temperature and pressure).

People (are struggling to) use different phrases to describe such process in a concise and terse way. While "vacancy generation/annihilation" has gained more attention and support in the community, I was wondering if there exist any word to capture and encompass both "generation" and "annihilation" in one professional encapsulating place. Any advice or comment is highly appreciated.

My own effort before asking: I have gone through a wide spectrum of words in various dictionaries. None of them looked thorough and accurate to me. My best pick, however, is apparition but I'm not quite sure. You can assume that I'm qualified to add a new but correct term to the community.

Perhaps bad candidates:

  • apparition
  • existence
  • presentation (does not convey "getting produced")
  • manifestation
  • nucleation
  • sprout
  • semblance

Why bad candidates? Not feeling right to me. Correct me if they are good, indeed.

  • How can a void be annihilated? Nothing can't be yet again turned to nothing. An apparition would get the showing up part, but people will likely think of ghosts.
    – KarlG
    Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 20:40
  • @KarlG If you're really interested in learning how a void can be annihilated you need to read some in-depth material science books such as goodreads.com/book/show/… Yet, in simple words, vacancy is not a conserved quantity. You can think of, for example, eliminating a vacant hole (vacuum not air) by applying some external force. Of course, here in a comment is probably not a right place to discuss such things. Please read the book if interested. Thanks for your attention tho. Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 20:48
  • Is the process intentional (in other words, something that metallurgists control, generating and annihilating voids as needed to produce the desired final product), or unintentional/natural (for example something that happens as an inadvertent result of other processes)?
    – 1006a
    Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 21:25
  • Here is a metallurgist glossary: metaltek.com/resources/library/glossary I can find no annihilation in it. Void generation and void "annihilation" would be two different things. Making a void and getting rid of the void. What encompasses life and death? Dunno. I can't understand the question, it seems wrong.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 0:14
  • Voids are said to be formed. The formation of voids.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 0:20

3 Answers 3


If we look to Greek terms, there is a word,

spagyria from σπάω (spao, to draw out) + ἀγείρω (ageiro, to gather)

which encompasses the complementary processes of separating and combining. It has the advantage of actually being in circulation for hundreds of years in alchemy, the precursor to modern chemistry, and already borrowed into English. It is believed to have been coined by Paracelsus. Its literal meaning refers to the process of dissolution and coagulation (solve et coagula) that was a central theme of alchemy. Your use of it would be figurative, drawing a parallel between coagulation/dissolution of substances and making/unmaking of vacancies. So one possibility is

vacancy spagyria

This eliminates one word entirely, but the combination vacancy spagyria is perhaps an unfortunate mashup of Latin and Greek derived words. If you are not married to the word vacancy, a “purer” alternative (and even a syllable shorter) is the compound

koilospagyria: from κοῖλος (koilos, cavity, hole) + spagyria

where κοῖλος is a close relative (cognate) of our modern words cave/cavity and hole/hollow. You would be the first, I believe, to use this compound.

  • As a Greek I very much appreciate the suggestion “spageiria”, but unfortunately not equally “koilospageiria”. This will almost certainly be misinterpreted as related to the belly. That’s because in the context of particles we do not usually use ΚΟΙΛΙΑ, but something like ΕΛΛΕΙΜΜΑ. I don’t know about metallurgy, but shortage of electrons as compared to some state would commonly read ΕΛΛΕΙΜΜΑ ΗΛΕΚΤΡΟΝΙΩΝ. Coining new terms is a fishy thing. I don’t dare to give recommendations. In Greek a genitive would probably be most idiomatic: ΣΠΑΓΕΙΡΙΑ ΕΛΛΕΙΜΑΤΩΝ.
    – Ludi
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 0:12
  • @Ludi Yes, coining new words is tricky. But are you talking about the use of the root word in modern Greek or ancient Greek?
    – MetaEd
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 0:14
  • do you mean the ΚΟΙΛΙΑ? I first start from modern Gr. My understanding of Ancient Greek is not bad, but I think speculating how the Ancients may have spoken of electrons gets us to a whole new level of speculation ;) The biggest problem is that I don’t really understand the metallurgical context, so it’s hard to guess what kind of sentence in Ancient Greek would most correspond to the idea. Otherwise, I am sure, we could find a lot of sentences talking about shortages, vacancies, etc. For example ΕΛΛΕΙΜΜΑ is used by Aspasius in his commentary on Aristotle. It’s not a modern construct.
    – Ludi
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 0:30
  • But if the concept has to do with concavity and not with shortage, then something with ΚΟΙΛΟΣ would be perfect!
    – Ludi
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 0:41
  • 1
    @Ludi Yes, the question is about cavities, basically. Take a look for example at the Wikipedia article titled Cavitation. That article focuses on mainly a related phenomenon in liquids.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 16:25

I can't imagine a single word encompassing both generation and annihilation. I can, however, suggest coining cavifaction for the creation of the void — using Latin as many technical terms have used in centuries past.

This consists of the genitive (cavi) of cavum, "hole, void" and -faction, basically "making."

Since the word doesn't exist yet, you are free to define it as you wish. I suppose one could try cavifacto- and add something for the annihilation bit, but you're already at four syllables. Or you could just use some Latin verb of destruction with cavi and leave it at that.

  • Very interesting indeed. I did a little bit research on the annihilation part but ended up with almost nothing. Not surprising as I'm not expert in this area. Any further thought on the annihilation part is tremendously appreciated. Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 23:29
  • How about the best of both answers: cavifaction cycle? Or you want some word that means "void destruction" instead of "void making"?
    – KarlG
    Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 23:44

You could consider vacancy life cycle.

a series of stages through which something (such as an individual, culture, or manufactured product) passes during its lifetime

I have an IT background, where software development life cycle is a commonly used phrase. If the hypernym you are looking for covers the generation, existence and annihilation of vacancies, then it would seem to fit your requirements as well.

  • A quite interesting way of looking at it. It was definitely a very likable answer. Thanks a lot for your input. Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 23:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.