ICAO Level 5 Vocabulary: A Holiday, a Vacation or Holidays?

A Holiday, a vacation or holidays? Which one of these would be the most suitable to describe a current short moment of not working for a time being? Let’s take a closer look at these words and check the differences between them.

A Holiday – British English

A holiday is a singular word and you see it in the headline above because I used a suitable article 🙂 Now, let’s check the meaning:

  1. ‘A holiday’ – it’s a period of cessation from work; a form of relaxation, recreation, leisure and free time.

A holiday-maker is a person who goes on holiday.


I’ve just come back from a holiday in Portugal.

Where are you flying on a holiday?

When we take a holiday, we’ll have more time for leisure and outdoor activities.

  1. ‘A bank holiday’ in British English.

a bank holiday is an official holiday when all the shops and banks are closed. See the full list of a bank holiday in the UK here.


Good Friday on 30th March is a bank holiday throughout Britain.

holiday and holidays - icao comprehension

A Vacation – American English

  1. ‘ A vacation’ is an equivalent in American English of a British ‘holiday’. A period of time during which you relax.
  2. ‘a national holiday’ in American English. Also a ‘federal holiday.’

US and Canadian equivalents are: a vacationer and vacationist.


We met George and Ian on vacation.

We’re taking a vacation in Georgia.

She planned a late summer vacation in Asia.


According to a dictionary, the holidays are the period when the children don’t have to go to school; hence we say ‘summer holidays’, ‘Easter holidays’ and ‘winter holidays’. The changing nature of the use of language coined a phrase where ‘holidays’ are used the most often – “Happy Holidays”. In the age of growing political correctness, some people are more willing to say “Happy Holidays” shortly before 25th December instead of “Merry Christmas” because of the neutral and non-religious connotations of the former phrase. “Merry Christmas” is one of the holiest days for Christians but it alienates other religions. “Happy Holidays” is more generic, definitely.

happy holidays


Now you see, it’s quite easy 🙂 A holiday and vacations are the same sides of the same coin – a holiday is British and a vacation – American. Holidays will be used most often by the children, teachers, students and all the education-related people. However, the growing popularity of ‘happy holidays’, especially at the beginning until almost the end of December, is a stimulus for almost everyone who tends to speak in politically correct approach. Did you know all these differences between the words listed in a heading? How do you use them? Share your views and let me know if you have any valuable reflections!

holidaymaker and vacationer