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‘Vacation’ variations

You might have encountered some of the new words being used to describe different types of holiday – humorous variations on vacation, such as daycation and staycation.

Daycation was a BuzzWord here on Macmillan Dictionary; Kerry’s article also explained greycation and naycation. We’ve come across mancation before, in the context of man-words, and a blog post I wrote about selfcation (a self-catering vacation) appeared in a round-up of links last September.

We can coin more of these words at will. How about straycation, where you wander off the beaten track on your vacation, or halfwaycation, where you stop halfway to your destination and decide to spend your holiday there instead? Someone must have done this.

Maybe you feel like a vacation from these words. But if you can bear another, there’s fake-ation, courtesy of Word Spy. Also spelled facation, fakeation and fakation, it has several possible meanings: a vacation on which you check or take your work, a pretend vacation where you call in sick despite feeling fine, and a “synthetic vacation” where you make it appear as though you’ve been on a real vacation.

The popularity of these words, and the rate at which we invent them, suggests that we think about holidays a lot. More to the point, it illustrates our love of playful word formation: we like to add bits of words to other words to make new words.

Many coinages, especially portmanteaus and novel compound words, arise through well-established morphological formulas. For instance, very heavy snow quickly leads to talk of “snowmageddon” and “snowpocalypse” – perfect for a sleighcation. Any familiar affix is liable to be put to fresh use. If a neologism evokes a common word (or two), so much the better: it will be more quickly understood by someone who has never heard it before.

The newness of such terms can be enough to attract automatic criticism, but they are sometimes helpful, and quite often fun. A few are considered useful enough to become widespread, and some eventually become standard. But I don’t think “halfwaycation” stands a chance, and that’s probably just as well.

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About the author


Stan Carey

Stan Carey is a freelance editor, proofreader and writer from the west of Ireland. Trained as a scientist and TEFL teacher, he writes about language, words, books and more on Sentence first, Macmillan Dictionary Blog and elsewhere. He tweets at @StanCarey.


  • We’re all so tired of winter! It has been colder and snowier than ever in Toronto. We all need a vacation from February. I put your interesting article, and the tempting photo, on my Facebook. And I added two new Vacation Words: SUNCATION and BEACHCATION. I hope it’s OK… That’s what we really want in February.Thank you, Stan for this new blog to visit>

  • Claude: You’re most welcome. Thank you for your visit, and for sharing the article. I know what you mean: February has been quite bruising here too, and spring seems to be struggling to gather any real momentum. Let’s hope your suncation arrives soon and warms the planet again, on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Laine: Oh! I’m glad to hear that. It makes my word more valid — I won’t consign it to history just yet.

  • Am only coming to this party now – a few years behind the curve! Loved the play on words and wondering about “synthetic vacation” – I know people who are ‘guilty as charged’….putting on fake tan suggestive of a week in the Canaries!

  • Hi Helen, thanks for your comment. The phrase ‘synthetic vacation’ is new to me, but the concept is not. I recall an episode of ‘Miranda’ where the title character spent a few happy days in a local hotel instead of going to the trouble of jetting off on holiday. I think we can all relate to that right now.

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