Please help me choose the most suitable word in this context:

When I went on vacation, thieves climbed into my abandoned apartment.

Does 'abandoned' word fit well in this usage? My apartment does not contain junk and not dilapidated. Good one with all necessary properties. It just was temporarily without owners. Nobody lived there for a few days.

What're better and more suitable options?

derelict, deserted, forsaken, emptied, unoccupied, outcast, something else?

  • 3
    Surely you continued to own it (or rent it) while you were on holiday? Did it still contain your furniture while you were away? What did you find when you looked up your suggested words? [Please edit the question; don't supply more information in comments]
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 15:30
  • 2
    LOL I do so wish the correct word could be "vacated"... maybe if writing hip hop lyrics... Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 14:56
  • 7
    Do you need a word there at all? "When I went on vacation, thieves climbed into my apartment" makes perfect sense on its own. Unless you supply some further detail (e.g. "...and they pointed a gun at my roommate"), the listener will likely assume nobody was in the apartment at the time. Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 18:34
  • The "owner" would call it rented. Otherwise they probably wouldn't be on vacation.
    – Mazura
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 21:58
  • It is unfortunate that the OP never came back to clarify whether the apartment continued to contain the OP's furniture and generally be ready for the OP's use. Several of the answers offered, including the most highly upvoted one, would normally be understood to imply that there is nothing left in the apartment; they would be misleading if the apartment is so equipped that the OP can immediately resume normal life in it upon return from the vacation.
    – jsw29
    Commented Jan 2 at 22:46

8 Answers 8


I would use the word unattended, as opposite to attended.
From the Vocabulary.com Dictionary:

having a caretaker or other watcher

When I went on vacation, thieves climbed into my unattended apartment.

  • 2
    Except that people don't usually think of themselves as "attending" an apartment; they're just living there, not "caretaking". Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 22:01
  • 4
    I agree with vacant as a good option, but suboptimal for the given context. For me vacant house means: unoccupied, available for buying, or moving in. Not in the sense of being burglary friendly.
    – Thinkeye
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 20:25
  • 3
    @TheEnvironmentalist Your comparison is not really good and you are using a fallacy here for sake of the argument. Even if you are right, you should make a valid point.
    – Ian
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 7:22
  • 1
    @TheEnvironmentalist It is just a faulty comparison. A "barking cow" has nothing do with an "unattended house". It is not even a grammatically comparable construction. Let's not escalate this discussion, just consider making your point with valid arguments.
    – Ian
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 11:46
  • 3
    Think of the phrase 'leaving a child unattended'. Children aren't usually 'attended' and yet they can be 'unattended.' In the child instance 'unattended' most closely means 'not being looked after,' which seems to be the same usage here for the apartment.
    – MMAdams
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 19:58

I'd use vacant.

  1. having no occupant; unoccupied: no vacant seats on this train.
  2. not in use: a vacant room.
  • 14
    A vacation is called such because it is a period during which a person vacates their home (leaving it vacant). Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 18:32
  • 64
    Although I'd likely use vacant in this case, calling an apartment vacant suggests that there is no tenant/resident, not that the tenant is simply away from the apartment temporarily.
    – yoozer8
    Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 21:03
  • 9
    @EldritchWarlord Interestingly, it seems that vacation comes from the person being vacant from their usual activities, rather than their house being vacant. As an en-UK speaker, I would say that my house was vacant while I was on holiday.
    – bobajob
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 11:19
  • 5
    "vacant" means that a rental/lease property is currently unrented. (rather like "vacancy" with motels/hotels).
    – Fattie
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 11:22
  • 4
    To me, "vacant" suggests that there are no owners. "Vacated" sounds more temporal
    – minseong
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 9:53

I would go with empty, for example

Burglars in Northern Ireland are having empty houses advertised to them by the growing trend of posting holiday snaps on social media, a police commander has warned.

As Mitch recommended, it may be even better to omit an adjective altogether.

  • 7
    Probably the word I'd most expect to hear in this situation. The other answers are good but a less natural choice; "unattended" is more precise but feels more formal than the rest of the sentence, and "vacant" has a sense of permanency (though not the neglect of "abandonment").
    – brichins
    Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 18:11
  • 2
    Omitting the adjective is surely an option, but if the OP asks for one, it is not the answer. The word empty feels to me a bit like there is nothing to steal, rather than there is nobody in there. It also fits better in your example than the one given by the OP.
    – Thinkeye
    Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 19:00
  • I think this is the best answer.
    – Fattie
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 11:22
  • 3
    It does require the reader to infer the meaning "empty of people" from the context (as opposed to "empty of everything", which would be disappointing for the burglars). That's probably reasonable (in the given context) as most of us don't take all our possessions on holiday. (I'll ignore caravanners here...) Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 12:43
  • I have to agree with Brichins. "Empty" is likely the most expected term, "unattended" conveys a sense that you were irresponsible for leaving it vulnerable, and "Vacant" or "unoccupied" typically refer to a place that doesn't have anyone living in it, rather than that they stepped out for a holiday. In normal conversation though an adjective would be redundant. You were on holiday and your house was burgled. That the house didn't have anyone in it at the time is implied by saying you were on holiday. Empty or Vacant are your two best options that I can think of if you must add an adjective. Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 13:16

You don't even really need a word for it. The reader will understand that your apartment is "unoccupied" from the context at the beginning of the sentence.

When I went on vacation, thieves climbed into my unoccupied apartment.

When I went on vacation, thieves climbed into my apartment.

  • 3
    This might work if you had already established that you live alone. But even then, you could have had house-sitters, or there could have been someone else (like a cleaner) in the apartment at the time. So while the reader might infer that no-one was present when the thieves got in, simply from the fact that you were on holiday, they could be wrong. if you want to make it certain that people draw that conclusion then I think you have to make it explicit.
    – Rupe
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 13:57
  • 5
    Unless it is made clear that someone else was inhabiting the home while they were gone, the assumption of the reader is that it is currently vacant, so I do not think that is necessary.
    – Heather
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 14:01
  • 3
    You have proven my point of "context". Your friends know that you have a flatmate. That is their given context of the situation. They know that even if you are absent, it is likely your flatmate is still there. In terms of this person's question, he leaves us with no other information, so it is within context that the reader is to assume that the house is completely unattended.
    – Heather
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 14:15
  • 4
    I think just "unoccupied" is fine - the fact that you're on vacation and not in your apartment establishes pretty clearly that it was only temporarily unoccupied, so adding "temporarily" doesn't really add much to what is already understood.
    – Myles
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 10:50
  • 1
    "unoccupied" (without the temporary was my initial reaction too). Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 15:25

My home was robbed 1. / got broken into / burgled while I was on vacation

If you were on holiday/vacation, it's clear that your home was (briefly) UNINHABITED during that period, and as such unguarded.

… the higher rate of crime in the inner city may be due to the fact that many urban homes are unguarded during much of the day in single-person and two-career households.
… a final means of obtaining knowledge of unguarded homes is through information gathered while performing a legitimate occupation. ... several occupations used by residential burglars, including an interior decorator, a cable television installer, ...

RESIDENTIAL BURGLARY by George F. Rengert and Elizabeth R. Groff

1. technically inaccurate, but it is often used in speech

  • Unless you had housemates, or a house-sitter.
    – arp
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 18:10
  • @arp the question is about a homeowner (and his/her family) who find their home burgled when they came back from their vacation. The OP didn't hire a house-sitter or ask friends to stay over while they were gone, if they had the question wouldn't be asking what to call a home that has nobody living in it.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 18:29
  • 1
    Pedantically (and certainly legally, at least here), "robbed" is the wrong word as that involves a personal attack (or at least threat of physical force). Burglary can happen at an empty property, but robbery can't, by definition. Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 12:39
  • @TobySpeight Hooray! Another supporter of precision in the use of theft/robbery/burglary. Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 15:24
  • +1. I think the "while" part of the vacation clause is helpful—absent any other context, if someone started a sentence with "While I was on vacation, my house..." I would assume that whatever came next would relate in some way to the owners being absent from the house for a stretch of time ("...was broken into by opportunistic thieves/was watched by a neighbor/was rented out through AirBNB/wasn't heated and the pipes burst/was tented for termites" etc.).
    – 1006a
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 21:16


Because you still own it, you didnt rent it out, so it is not in truth exactly 'empty' or 'vacated' but no-one is living or 'inhabiting' it right now, so I think you can say 'While I was on holiday, thieves broke into my uninhabited apartment'.

Webster's Definition of uninhabited : not occupied or lived in by people : not inhabited


I would go with "unalarmed" abode.

  • 4
    Welcome to EL&U. Please improve your answer with references and explanations as to why you would choose that term. Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 18:58
  • Why? Occupied apartments are also generally unalarmed. People set the alarm when the go out ... Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 22:01
  • Although it sounds contrived to the uninitiated (me), it turns out that it could work. en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/unalarmed shows it to mean a dwelling "not fitted with an alarm", which conveys the situation well: the thieves were able to commit their crimes by virtue of the place being without an alarm system. In turn, this implies that no one is in the house, or one would not mention the alarm system (or absence thereof).
    – Mathieu K.
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 3:13

Re: apartment's occupants on vacation and thus no-one at home. You could create a US-neologism. How about "vacationated"? This combines vacation with vacated.
It resonates with vacant; the closest extant word to your need, as proposed earlier by Roger Lipscombe.

  • 4
    not appropriate answer as OP is looking for current accepted and defined words in the English language.
    – lbf
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 11:51

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