1. One’s regular job or occupation.
2. An activity taken up besides the regular work; a hobby.
From Latin avocare (to call away), from a- (off, away) + vocare (to call), from vox (voice). Earliest documented use: before 1617.
Originally the word vocation was used in a religious sense, as a divine calling. If a vocation was a calling, literally speaking, an avocation was a calling away, a distraction, which could be a hobby or a diversion. Sometimes the business that calls away can be of greater importance. Over time the two opposite senses of the word avocation became muddled and now it can connote either sense depending on the context.
“For librarian Maureen Sullivan, the world of libraries is much more than an avocation.”
James Craven; Groups to Honor Librarian; The Bulletin (Norwich, Connecticut); Jun 20, 2011.
“Harley Garbani was a one-time plumber who gained unexpected renown pursuing his lifelong avocation as a fossil hunter, discovering some of the world’s most significant dinosaur fossils.”
Dennis McLellan; Obituary; Los Angeles Times; May 1, 2011.
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