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Deplete v. Evacuate

Ask a Teacher: Deplete v. Evacuate
Ask a Teacher: Deplete v. Evacuate
Deplete v. Evacuate
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Hello! This week on Ask a Teacher, we will answer a question about the difference between the words “deplete" and “evacuate.”


Dear Learning English,

I am Mehran from Iran, Tehran. I'm interested in your program and I'm improving my English from VOA learning English.

I have a question:

What the difference is between “deplete” and “evacuate?”

Best regards,



Dear Mehran,

Thank you for asking about these two terms.

“Deplete” and “evacuate” both suggest “to lessen or remove” something. However, there are big differences in the dictionary definitions of these words and their uses.

Let us start with “deplete.”


“Deplete” is a verb that takes a direct object. It means to lessen, reduce, or use up something over time.

We commonly use “deplete” with nouns like “strength,” “energy,” “resources,” “money,” or “funds."

Jack depleted his college fund a year before graduation.

This sentence means that Jack used up most or all of the money in his college fund before he graduated.

Natural resources like oil and coal will become depleted, so we must find other energy sources.

This means that natural resources will run out after an amount of time.

The nurse’s 16-hour shift depleted all of her energy. She was so tired by the time she returned home.

This means that she had no more energy left.

Let us move on to “evacuate”


“Evacuate” is also a verb that takes a direct object. It usually means to remove people from an area because it is dangerous.

The word is often linked with the idea of an emergency. When we use the term “evacuate,” there is a sense of quickness or urgency.

In everyday speech, this is the most common way that we use “evacuate.”

When the fire alarm goes off, people must evacuate the building.

This means people must leave the building if they hear the alarm, whether there is a fire or not.

“Evacuate” can also mean to make or leave empty or sometimes in the case of a body, it can mean to discharge.

We had to evacuate all the furniture in the house to clean the floors.

The doctor evacuated rocks and dirt from the open cut on her knee.


These two words might seem similar in meaning, but they are very different. You can think of “deplete” as “using up or lessening over time.” For “evacuate,” you can think of “removing very quickly” because of an emergency.

Please let us know if these examples and explanations have helped you, Mehran!

What question do you have about American English? Send us an email at

And that’s Ask a Teacher.

I’m John Russell.

Faith Pirlo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

fundn. a sum of money for a special purpose

shift – n. the scheduled period of time during which a person works

urgency – n. something that needs immediate attention

alarm n. a signal (such as a loud noise or flashing light) that warns or alerts

furniture – n. chairs, tables, beds, and other objects that are used to make a room ready for use