Holiday vs vacation

Discussion in 'English Only' started by titutan, Jun 21, 2006.

  1. titutan New Member

    Some times I mistake Holiday and vacation, the other day I was on this site and there was an article and it said Holiday in space. I got confused why he didn't wrote vacation in space. Whats the diffrence between holiday and Vacation?

  2. soupdragon78

    soupdragon78 Senior Member

    England English
    Hi titutan.
    Vacation is American English and holiday is British English. Other than that the two words mean the same thing. Which word to use just depends on who you are talking to.
    Hope this helps.
  3. titutan New Member

    Hi thanks a lot, maybe I am used more to the world vacation because it could be the t.v and films i see are from u.s.a and so I dont know much about the birtsh words much.

    Thanks a lot!
  4. MarcB Senior Member

    US English
    This is correct. In Ae holiday is reserved for days that are of religious or national significance, they involve one or more days off from school or work.
  5. Symbian Member

    what's the difference between "holiday" and "vacation"?
    maybe holiday is used in UK and vacation in US?
  6. Parergon Senior Member

    Italiano, Italia
    I believe that "vacation" is more used in US English.
  7. Karl!!!! Senior Member

    Derby. England
  8. Patapan Member

    At my desk
    UK English
    Hi, all,

    There are exceptions. 'Holiday' is more commonly used in the UK, and means literally that - time off work to be spent doing whatever you want.
    'Vacation' here means again literally what it says - a place of work which is emptied of its inhabitants because they're on holiday. Thus in several British universities, the periods when students are not actually required to be on campus are known as 'vacation'. The assumption is that they may well still be working (!!!) but they're simply 'not present'. In Oxford, this is now abbreviated simply to 'the Vac'. The summer holidays are known there as 'the Long Vac'.

    Sorry. Just thought I'd confuse everybody....

  9. languageGuy Senior Member

    Kansas City, MO
    USA and English
    Both terms are very common in the US, but they mean different things.

    A holiday is a day off work or school. The day is chosen by the government or school (Christmas, Patriots Day, 4th of July, Labor Day).

    A vacation you get to select the days.

    There are exceptions to this. Some school vacations are set by the school. They differ from holidays by being longer that a day off.
  10. Symbian Member

    Ok, thanks all...
    but, languageGuy, let's suppose that we meet in NYC and you ask me: " hi Nik, what are you doing here?" (better "here" or "in here"?)
    What should I reply? I'm in NYC for a short?... vacation or holiday?

    Thanks again
  11. SweetBird Member

    USA english
    I think that you can say either one and your meaning will be understood.

    I'm in NYC on vacation. / I'm in NYC on a vacation.:tick:

    I'm in NYC on holiday./ I'm in NYC on a holiday.:tick:
  12. Symbian Member

    Ok, thanks a lot
  13. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    Holiday and vacation mean different things in the USA and my understanding is somewhat different than Language Guy's understanding.

    I get Holidays (days off from work). Holidays are granted, either by official government decree or by an employer's discretion.

    I take a vacation. I take my vacation during the holiday. A vacation is how I utilize a holiday.

    "What did you do during your holidays?"
    "What did you do on your vacation?"
    "Oh, the holidays? No vacation, I just stayed home and relaxed."
  14. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    Is this common US usage?

    Here is a quote from the employment conditions of the Texas Department of Transportation:
    Vacation Leave

    As a TxDOT employee, you earn vacation hours based on your years of creditable state employment. You can use your vacation time after six months of continuous state service.

    It would appear that for them, vacation is your days off work.
  15. emma42 Senior Member

    North East USA
    British English
    A quick overview of the most common usages of "holiday" in the UK:

    Are you going on holiday this year?
    Yes, we're going to Tenerife for two weeks.

    Why are you not at school today?
    Because it's the Easter Holidays

    You had better finish that work today, because it's a Bank Holiday tomorrow and no one will be in the office.

    You are so tanned! Have you been on a sunbed?
    No, I've just got back from my holidays in Spain.
  16. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    I think it is consistent with my explanation. You earn [the right to take] vacation hours based on the your time of service. In this case you take your vacation at your whim once it is earned. Holidays, such as New Years Day, would be in addition to the vacation. So there would still be a distinction of Holidays (granted) and vacation days (taken, earned).
  17. AngelEyes

    AngelEyes Senior Member

    English - United States

    This is how I would interpret the AE viewpoint. If you used the word, "holiday" in place of "vacation" with me, I would think you're either a Canadian neighbor who's visiting (I live in a border state), or you're speaking BE.

    Also, I don't see much of a difference in languageGuy's opinions with these. His pretty much jive with mine, too. :)

  18. AWordLover

    AWordLover Senior Member

    Atlanta, Georgia USA
    USA English
    The use of holiday and vacation is quite complicated in the US. Often they can be used interchangably and there are many cases where they cannot.

    In the example cited above, the vacation time would likely be in addition to the 8 to ten official holidays (for example, the 4th of July). Both vacation days and holidays are days when you do not go into work.
  19. kenny4528

    kenny4528 Senior Member

    Mandarin, Taiwan
    From the viewpoint of Asian, I agreed with what AngelEyes said.
    What I was taught about ''holiday'' and ''vacation'' seems a BE/AE thing.
  20. AKİN Member

    what is the difference between holiday and vacation ?
  21. nzfauna

    nzfauna Senior Member

    Wellington, New Zealand
    New Zealand, English
    Have you looked the dictionary?
  22. Albert53 Senior Member

    USA, English
    In America, a holiday is a day when businesses and so on are closed, for example, Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July and so on.
    A vacation in America is the time one take off from work or school and perhaps travels for rest and recreation.
    Let's wait a minute for a Brit to come by, but I do belive they use the word "holiday" as the Americans use "vacation". I am not sure what they do with "vacation."

    PS And I don't have any idea how the NZs or Australians use the terms. Maybe one will enlighten us. ;-)
  23. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    Welcome to the forum, Akin. If you were to type the words "holiday" and "vacation" into the Dictionary Look-up at the top of the page, this is one of the threads that you would find on the subject:

    You should always try that first because many, many subjects have been discussed more than once on the forum.:)
  24. AKİN Member

    yeah but I didnt get it !
  25. AKİN Member

    I've just got back from my holidays in Spain.


    I've just got back from my holiday in Spain. ??
  26. bamboo--tw Senior Member

    We have decided to take a vacation/rest/holiday.
    We have decided to be on leave.

    Do all of the bolded words fit in the above and mean about the same as the second? Thanks.
  27. Istarion Senior Member

    Paris, France
    British English
    Vacation and Holiday mean much the same, but holiday tends to be used more in BE while Vacation is definitely AE. "Rest", however, implies a much shorter break - a break in between two pieces of homework or a short nap in the afternoon, for example. Definitely not the same meaning as a holiday.
    Also, "On leave" tends to mean you've been let off work by your boss so that you can take a holiday - so you can't "decide" to be on leave. However, you can ask your boss to "give you leave" - and then you can go on holiday.

    Hope that makes sense,
  28. nikkieli Senior Member

    Bulgaria, Bulgarian
    Hi, friends,In my English textbook titled "High Season", the word 'vacation' is listed as the American equivalent of the British 'holiday'. However, I repeatedly hear 'holiday' in American movies, though in British films 'vacation' is not the word that one would constantly hear to mean 'holiday'.My query is: is this really the case and if yes, how frequently would an average American use 'holiday' to mean 'vacation', and how frequently would an Englishman use 'vacation' to mean 'holiday'. What about Australia and Canada and other English-speaking countries?Thank you
  29. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    English / England
    This English woman would never use vacation to mean holiday, although I know what it means and understand it when I hear US types say it.
  30. George French Senior Member

    English - UK
    UK view.

    Dictionaries give vacation as US-EN. Holiday has religious roots of course and as far as I know vacation doesn't.

    In the UK there are offical holidays many of which are Christian "events" such as Easter and Christmas. Note that this dictionary's only reference to a religious connection is St. Patrick's day; Christmas doesn't even get a look in!

    The use of "I'm going on holiday" next week is very common. People say I'm going away for the Xmas hols.

    Vacation is also used in the UK, the exposure to the US version of the language is high.. Would secularisation of language in official written documents encourage the use of vacation?.


    What % common use in UK? No idea.
  31. cycloneviv

    cycloneviv Senior Member

    Perth, Western Australia
    English - Australia
    Did you try doing a forum search before posting? Many of your questions are answered in these previous threads:

    Holiday or vacation?
    Holiday vs vacation

    As to what the preference is here in Australia, we still largely use "holiday", but would understand "vacation". I say "largely" because I hear a lot of AE terminology from the mouths of young whipper-snappers (that is, people under 20 or so).
  32. I'm with you, suzi br, on this one.

  33. beccamutt

    beccamutt Senior Member

    New Jersey, USA
    English - US
    In AE:

    Holiday = Christmas, Independence Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Chanakuh, Ramadan, Memorial Day, etc.
    Halloween is my favorite holiday because you get to wear costumes.
    There are many religious holidays in the month of December.

    Vacation = Time spent away from work usually, and very often involving travel
    Where are you going on/for vacation?
    I'm going to Italy for my vacation, but I'm going to France on business.
    I have ten vacation days each year (I have ten days off from work each year).
  34. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    It is really the case.

    The average American would rarely use the word "holiday" in place of "vacation". (Anyone who said "where are you going on holiday this year?" would be thought hugely affected, and would be laughted at.) That being said, the word "holiday" is used commonly in other ways.

    Easter is my favorite holiday.
    The police had a program to crack down on drunk drivers over the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
    For my vacation this year I decided to have a Caribbean holiday.
    When we heard that we were getting a new boss, it felt like a holiday.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2008
  35. Scalloper Senior Member

    UK, English
    The only times I've heard "vacation" being used in Britan is by students to refer to the official end of term/year breaks at university.
  36. Franzi Senior Member

    Astoria, NY
    (San Francisco) English
    Agreed. Americans don't use 'holiday' in place of 'vacation' (unless we're imitating someone else's dialect).
  37. It's much simpler here in the UK.

    We never say 'vacation'.

  38. TriglavNationalPark

    TriglavNationalPark Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
    Scalloper appears to contradict this two posts above. :confused:
  39. fahad nasir New Member

    Thank you for this vital informations.
  40. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    Australian English is much the same BE with regard to "holiday".

    We don't have "Bank holidays", but rather "Public Holidays", which vary a little from state to state.
  41. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    I don't think secularisation [read: anti-religion in general and anti-Christianity in particular] will encourage the use of vacation over holiday. Can you imagine anyone saying "The August Bank Vacation"?

    Most people are not aware that holiday comes from holy day. Nobody worries about the expressions "bird sactuary" or "whale sanctuary", which also come from the protection afforded by sanctuaries [holiest places] in churches.
  42. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I think most people are quite likely to guess (because only one letter is different and even its replacement has the same sound) that holiday and holy day are related!!!

    You are not suggesting that "secularization" can be defined as "anti-religion or anti-christianity", are you?
  43. Copperknickers Senior Member

    Scotland - Scots and English
    'Vacation is also used in the UK, the exposure to the US version of the language is high.. Would secularisation of language in official written documents encourage the use of vacation?.'

    We'd have to have quite a big overhaul of our language if we want to phase out all signs of religion from it. Holiday does not mean 'holy day' in any context. It would be literally incorrect to say 'St Andrews' day holiday' for example, because there is no holiday, there is only a holy day. 'Vacation' is an American word, only used in Britain when mimicking American speech and in its proper sense of the making vacant of a location.
  44. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
  45. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    Yes, but federal employees get holidays off as well as vacation days. It's not simply "holiday" vs. "vacation".

    "Employees earn annual leave at rates depending on their length of service. For their first three years of full-time employment, you earn 104 hours of vacation a year. "

    As beccammut said, a few years back, we use both "holiday" and "vacation" in the U.S., but they mean different things.

    Last edited: Aug 22, 2011
  46. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    British English
    That is definitely not true. British universities and law courts have vacations, not holidays.
  47. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    You are probably referring to universities and courts and the like for this usage? When I was at university, there were people there during the "vacation" so it was by no means vacant, only parts of it were.
    As, perhaps, one's home might be vacant when one goes to one's aunty's house beside the seaside for the summer hols? Alternatively, some part (cubicle/office/workstation) of the workplace becomes vacant when someone goes on holiday - or vacation. It is simply a difference in usage, not an "improper" use in AmE :D
  48. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    As Andygc notes above, vacation is not "an American word"; it has been used in Oxford and Cambridge Universities for centuries to mean the period between terms when no instruction is taking place. Three vacations occur each year at Oxford: the Christmas vacation, the Easter vacation, and the Long Vacation.

    I am always puzzled when I hear a word used for centuries in Britian branded as "an American word"; where are Americans supposed to have gotten the word from, anyway? In the matter of "vacation", note that the customs in American universities generally derive from the customs of the earliest colleges in North America, which were founded by graduates of both the ancient English universities, and most especially (at least in the case of Harvard College) by graduates of Cambridge. The terminology of Oxford and Cambridge (including "vacation") thus spread to American universities, and from there to American public schools generally, and from public schools into society at large.
  49. Fabulist Banned

    Annandale, Virginia, USA
    American English
    American English has a number of non-English word sources, including American Indian language words for animals and geographic phenomena not found in Great Britain (opossum, raccoon), Spanish for southwestern geographic features not found in Great Britain (arroyo, mesa), cultural objects and phenomena adapted from the non-European inhabitants of North America (kayak), and words from many other languages, just as British English has picked up words from the native languages of their former colonies, especially India, that are unfamiliar to Americans. "Vacation" is not one of these words, however. Sometimes, American English preserves a word that British English has abandoned, and sometimes American English redefines a British word to fit American conditions. If GWB's post about the history of "vacation" is correct, it appears to be a word whose meaning has been extended in the U.S. from its original sense but not in Britain. That doesn't make it an "American word" or a corruption of the language, but it does mean that it has a particularly American use or sense that it does not have in Britain.
  50. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    I found this site for Grifton, the University of Cambridge and they have "vacations" listed there. So it is not strictly speaking an American term.

    [h=2]Vacation Residence[/h][h=3]Staying in Residence outside the Tenancy Period[/h]Students are welcome to stay up in College or Wolfson Court during the Long Vacation although please be aware that many of the normal facilities and services may not be available during these times.

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