1540s, "emptiness of space," from Latin vacuum "an empty space, vacant place, a void," noun use of neuter of vacuus "empty, unoccupied, devoid of," figuratively "free, unoccupied," from Proto-Italic *wakowos, related to the source of Latin vacare "to be empty" (from PIE *wak-, extended form of root *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out"), with adjectival suffix -uus. Properly a loan-translation of Greek kenon, literally "that which is empty."
Meaning "a space emptied of air" is attested from 1650s. Vacuum tube "glass thermionic device" is attested from 1859. Vacuum cleaner is from 1903; shortened form vacuum (n.) first recorded 1910.
The metaphysicians of Elea, Parmenides and Melissus, started the notion that a vacuum was impossible, and this became a favorite doctrine with Aristotle. All the scholastics upheld the maxim that "nature abhors a vacuum." [Century Dictionary]
in medicine, "exhaustion from lack of nourishment," c. 1400, "pathological draining or depletion of blood, humors, or bodily fluids," from Old French inanition (14c.) and directly from Latin inanitionem (nominative inanitio) "emptiness," noun of action from past-participle stem of inanire "to empty," from inanis "empty, void; worthless, useless," a word of uncertain origin.
"empty, reduce, or exhaust by drawing away," 1807, originally in medicine (of blood-letting, purgatives), back-formation from depletion, which is from Latin deplere "to empty," literally "to un-fill," from de "off, away" (see de-) + plere "to fill" (from PIE root *pele- (1) "to fill"). General sense by 1859. Related: Depleted; depleting.