originally a calling away, an interruption, a distraction, is used in Britain, though not in U.S., as a stylish synonym for vocation or calling, which it is properly in antithesis. This has destroyed a useful differentation; but vocation has retained the idea of ‘calling’; a man is fortunate if his avocation, in the sense of his occupation, is also his vocation.

H.W. Fowler
A Dictionary of Modern English Usage
2nd Edition

Av`o*ca"tion (?), n. [L. avocatio.]


A calling away; a diversion.

[Obs. or Archaic]

Impulses to duty, and powerful avocations from sin. South.


That which calls one away from one's regular employment or vocation.

Heaven is his vocation, and therefore he counts earthly employments avocations. Fuller.

By the secular cares and avocations which accompany marriage the clergy have been furnished with skill in common life. Atterbury.

⇒ In this sense the word is applied to the smaller affairs of life, or occasional calls which summon a person to leave his ordinary or principal business. Avocation (in the singular) for vocation is usually avoided by good writers.

3. pl.

Pursuits; duties; affairs which occupy one's time; usual employment; vocation.

There are professions, among the men, no more favorable to these studies than the common avocations of women. Richardson.

In a few hours, above thirty thousand men left his standard, and returned to their ordinary avocations. Macaulay.

<-- p. 106 -->

An irregularity and instability of purpose, which makes them choose the wandering avocations of a shepherd, rather than the more fixed pursuits of agriculture. Buckle.


© Webster 1913.

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