vacay

Hey, vacay, it’s like a playday and a soirée… What do you say? Oh, extra syllables are soooo last whatever. No need to “shun,” just let it trail off at the end into that creaky city-girl growl. It’s a lay-back-and-check-your-nail-polish kind of sound. You just, kind of, vacate that last syllable, y’know? And that [eI] diphthong ending may be catching on. Oprah decided to name a certain organ the va-jay-jay, for instance.

Vacay also looks like a place to go on vacay. There’s Rum Cay, Sandy Cay, Mira por vos Cay, why not Va Cay? (Or, with the pronunciation, Vay Cay? Maybe it’s off Miami Beach – Oy Vay Cay!) Or it could be on some Spanish island: vaca y… “cow and ” what?

The word is almost neatly symmetrical; the v shapes are like martinis or upside-down umbrellas or swaying palm trees or deck chairs seen from above, the c like a glass of beverage or a table seen from above… the tail of the y gives it that extra sway, or perhaps it’s draining away something: stress, rain from a storm, final syllables…

If the word seems to engender an empty stare or an empty desk chair, or if it bespeaks an empty mind or an empty wallet, well, it is from vacation, which is ultimately from Latin vacare, verb, “be empty” – or (I like this better) “be free”. Free as a bird! Vacay? Okay…

And how did this relaxed, quasi-urbane, Paris-Hilton-sounding word come our way? Its primary vector seems to have been the ciné: Legally Blonde, starring Reese Witherspoon. “You mean, like on vacay? Road trip!” Give the girl a standing ovay…

4 responses to “vacay

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  3. this is not a word.

    • Obviously it is.

      Start by reading https://sesquiotic.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/repainting-birds/ .

      But then read this definition from the Oxford English Dictionary:

      vacay, n.
      Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈveɪkeɪ/ , U.S. /ˈveɪˌkeɪ/
      Forms: 19– vaca, 19– vacay.
      Etymology: Shortened < vacation n.
      N. Amer. colloq.

      A vacation, a holiday.

      1992 Re: More on getting Gigs in rec.music.makers (Usenet newsgroup) 14 Jan. He said he was going on vacay and would give me something after he gets back.
      1995 Pittsburgh Post-Gaz. 16 July g8/2 The convertible..was my Mom’s, we were on vacay.
      2003 R. Cohn Steps ii. 4, I had been so excited about hanging with Justine over the vacay that I hadn’t considered going to see Jack.
      2008 J. Mahmough Way Things Are xviii. 113 To tell you the truth, I started last week..and you were on vaca.
      2012 Gazette (Montreal) (Nexis) 12 May h7 Guests..couldn’t help but purchase several tickets in the hopes of winning rock-star items like the first prize luxury vacay.


      Your take-away: It’s not up to you to say what is and isn’t a word.

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