em·​per·​or | \ˈem-pər-ər, -prər\

Definition of emperor 

: the sovereign or supreme male monarch of an empire

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from emperor

emperorship \ ˈem-​pər-​ər-​ˌship , -​prər-​ \ noun

Did You Know?

The words emperor, caesar, czar, and Kaiser all go back to one source: the title of the first Roman emperor, Imperator Caesar Augustus. Augustus was the adopted son of the Roman general and ruler Julius Caesar and he took the name Caesar as part of his official name. Later Roman emperors did the same, and thus caesar came to mean “an emperor of Rome.” The word caesar was borrowed into German and other Germanic languages as Kaiser, which is how we get the word kaiser for “a ruler in Germany.” Through the Russian word tsar, which also came from kaiser, we got our word czar, meaning “a ruler in Russia.” The word emperor can be traced through French to Latin imperator. Imperator was a title given to great Roman generals and meant “commander,” from the verb imperare “to command.”

Examples of emperor in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The tree’s lineage is believed to go back to the weeping willow that, as legend goes, Napoleon would sit beneath after the French emperor was exiled in 1815 to the far-off island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic. Erik Lacitis, The Seattle Times, "‘It has a story to tell’: How a descendant of Napoleon’s willow tree took root on a Seattle hillside," 30 Oct. 2018 Previous studies have found that other species — such as the emperor, Adelie and chinstrap — are also in danger of extinction or severe population loss due to climate change. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "Move or die: Global warming threatens Antarctica’s King penguins," 26 Feb. 2018 Players include one boy-emperor, two cooperative tailors and three dishonest cabinet ministers, given to stealing. Susan Faust, San Antonio Express-News, "Harriet Tubman, Africa and Planet Earth star in new books for kids," 7 Feb. 2018 After British troops destroyed the emperor’s fortress, religious artifacts were ransacked; the items have since been acquired by several institutions, including the V&A and the British Museum, as well as by private collectors. Anna Codrea-rado, New York Times, "U.K. Museum Offers Ethiopia Long-Term Loan of Looted Treasures," 4 Apr. 2018 In the early nineteenth century, there were no more Egyptian dynasties, Greek city-states, or Roman emperors; but there were still Jews, practicing the same religion that their ancestors had, millennia earlier. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "Why Jewish History Is So Hard to Write," 14 Mar. 2018 Eventually the fish became prized by hobbyists and even emperors. Pam Kragen, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Passion for koi runs in the family," 2 Mar. 2018 The Imperial Household Agency said Akihito’s wife Empress Michiko called the palace doctor early in the morning after finding the emperor sweating profusely. Washington Post, "Japan’s 84-year-old emperor has dizziness, advised to rest," 2 July 2018 The Imperial Household Agency said Akihito’s wife Empress Michiko called the palace doctor early in the morning after finding the emperor sweating profusely. Yuri Kageyama, The Seattle Times, "Japan’s 84-year-old emperor has dizziness, advised to rest," 1 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'emperor.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of emperor

13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for emperor

Middle English emperour, borrowed from Anglo-French empereor, amperour, going back to Latin imperātōr-, imperātor "person giving orders, commanding officer, title of honor bestowed on a victorious general by his troops, title conferred by the Roman senate on Julius Caesar and Augustus and adopted by later successors," from imperāre "to demand the production of, levy, give orders, exercise authority, hold political power" (from im- in- entry 2 + parāre "to supply, provide, make ready") + -tōr-, -tor, agent suffix — more at pare

Note: See note at pare.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about emperor

Statistics for emperor

Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for emperor

The first known use of emperor was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for emperor



English Language Learners Definition of emperor

: a man who rules an empire


em·​per·​or | \ˈem-pər-ər \

Kids Definition of emperor

: a man who rules an empire

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on emperor

What made you want to look up emperor? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a private place of worship

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!