I spent nine weeks ignoring much of my regular job and working like a demon. Can I call that a “sabbatical”? With a wink, maybe, but I think I’ve been using the term a little too loosely. Traditionally, a sabbatical is the exclusive realm of the professor or “college teacher.” Oxford English Dictionary:
a period of paid leave granted to a college teacher for study or travel, traditionally every seventh year: she's away on sabbatical.
Merriam Webster, a little less traditional, is less particular about just who can do a sabbatical, but emphasizes the holiday flavour:
a period of time during which someone does not work at his or her regular job and is able to rest, travel, do research, etc.
Clearly modern usage does not restrict itself to teachers. Anyone can go on a sabbatical these days, though it would seem absurd from anyone who doesn’t have some researching or studying to do. But while research and study may still be the focus of a sabbatical, clearly a sabbatical is some kind of time off. And I most assuredly was not on holiday.
The only way I can get away with calling my nine weeks a sabbatical is on the thin premise that “change is as good as a holiday.” I worked, but it was different. I ignored many routine responsibilities of my job, and dialed up many of the more scholarly aspects on my work. That is sabbatical-ish. But it stretches the definition to the breaking point.
I was not on holiday, but I wasn’t really on a sabbatical either. I’m not sure there is a noun for just buckling down and working your ass off on a bunch of overdue projects for nine weeks. Pressure cooker? Meat grinder?