In a vacuum

In a vacuum is an idiom.  An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common saying in a vacuum, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

In a vacuum describes something that stands alone, something cut off from other influences, something without links to the outside world. Something or someone that exists in a vacuum is totally isolated. Often, the term is used in the negative, to admonish someone that his or her actions affect others. The expression in a vacuum came into the scientific literature with the demonstration of the ability to create a vacuum in the mid-1600s; before that, the concept of a vacuum was only philosophical. In a vacuum had a literal meaning for hundreds of years before it also took on a figurative meaning as an idiom. The word vacuum is a Latin word, which means empty space or a void.


Though this could reshape the greater way we do business and have significant dividends for personal health, it should be noted that such digitalization did not occur in a vacuum. (Big Easy Magazine)

After showing a brief timeline of the history of Blacks in the LDS Church, Williams stated that the growth of the church didn’t happen in a vacuum.  (Daily Herald)

While the courts have the mandate to ensure that the Constitution is not circumvented, they do not operate in a vacuum and should therefore not be a hindrance to Kenyans’ will to exercise their sovereignty. (The Star Kenya)

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