hollow vs vacuous what difference

what is difference between hollow and vacuous


Alternative forms

  • hallow
  • holler (nonstandard: dialectal, especially Southern US)


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈhɒl.əʊ/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈhɑ.loʊ/
    • (Southern American English, Appalachia) IPA(key): /hɑlɚ/
  • Rhymes: -ɒləʊ

Etymology 1

From Middle English holow, holowe, holwe, holwȝ, holgh, from Old English holh (a hollow), from Proto-Germanic *halhwaz, from Proto-Indo-European *ḱelḱwos. Cognate with Old High German huliwa and hulwa, Middle High German hülwe. Perhaps related to hole.


hollow (plural hollows)

  1. A small valley between mountains.
    • c. 1710–20, Matthew Prior, The First Hymn Of Callimachus: To Jupiter
      Forests grew upon the barren hollows.
  2. A sunken area or unfilled space in something solid; a cavity, natural or artificial.
  3. (figuratively) A feeling of emptiness.
  4. (US) A sunken area.


hollow (third-person singular simple present hollows, present participle hollowing, simple past and past participle hollowed)

  1. (transitive) to make a hole in something; to excavate

Etymology 2

From Middle English holowe, holwe, holuȝ, holgh, from the noun (see above).


hollow (comparative hollower, superlative hollowest)

  1. (of something solid) Having an empty space or cavity inside.
    a hollow tree; a hollow sphere
  2. (of a sound) Distant, eerie; echoing, reverberating, as if in a hollow space; dull, muffled; often low-pitched.
    • 1903, George Gordon Byron, On Leaving Newstead Abbey
      Through thy battlements, Newstead, the hollow winds whistle:
  3. (figuratively) Without substance; having no real or significant worth; meaningless.
    a hollow victory
  4. (figuratively) Insincere, devoid of validity; specious.
    a hollow promise
  5. Concave; gaunt; sunken.
    • c. 1596-1599, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
      To view with hollow eye and wrinkled brow
  6. (gymnastics) Pertaining to hollow body position
Derived terms
  • hollow leg


hollow (not comparable)

  1. (colloquial) Completely, as part of the phrase beat hollow or beat all hollow.

Etymology 3

Compare holler.


hollow (third-person singular simple present hollows, present participle hollowing, simple past and past participle hollowed)

  1. To call or urge by shouting; to hollo.
    • 1814. Sir Walter Scott, Waverley
      He has hollowed the hounds.



  1. Alternative form of hollo


  • hollow in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.



Latin vacuus (empty, vacant)


  • IPA(key): /ˈvækju.əs/


vacuous (comparative more vacuous, superlative most vacuous)

  1. Empty; void; lacking meaningful content.
  2. Showing a lack of thought or intelligence; vacant

Derived terms

  • vacuity (noun)
  • vacuously (adverb)
  • vacuousness (noun)


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