em·​per·​or | \ ˈem-pər-ər How to pronounce emperor (audio) , -prər \

Definition of emperor

: the sovereign or supreme male monarch of an empire

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Other Words from emperor

emperorship \ ˈem-​pər-​ər-​ˌship How to pronounce emperorship (audio) , -​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 presidency has mutated and turned metastatic, with the president becoming a sort of ersatz Roman emperor whose main importance to public life is no longer administrative but ceremonial and sacramental. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Impeachment and the Broken Truce," 14 Nov. 2019 On the walls are images of Roman emperors presenting offerings to Egyptian gods. Michelle Green, New York Times, "A Nile Journey Guided by 19th-Century Women," 11 Nov. 2019 Here is a timeline of the thorny dispute, which shook the foundations of secular India, like no other event in living memory: 1528-29: A mosque is built in Ayodhya by Mir Baqi, a general of the first Mughal emperor Babur. Sangeeta Tanwar, Quartz India, "A timeline of a land dispute that has ripped India’s heart apart over seven decades," 9 Nov. 2019 Enshrined at Kashikodokoro is the sun goddess Amaterasu, the mythological ancestress of Japan’s emperors. Washington Post, "Japanese Emperor Naruhito ascends Chrysanthemum Throne," 22 Oct. 2019 In May, Naruhito's 85-year-old father Emperor Akihito abdicated the Chrysanthemum Throne, becoming the first Japanese emperor to do so in 200 years. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Royals from Around the World Are Heading to Japan for Emperor Naruhito's Enthronement Ceremony," 21 Oct. 2019 The head of state began his reign in May, after his father, Akihito, became the first emperor to abdicate in 200 years. Julia Hollingsworth, CNN, "Prince Charles, Rodrigo Duterte among guests expected at enthronement of Japan's new emperor," 21 Oct. 2019 The troupe was founded in 1976 in the province that was home to imperial summer residence of Qing Dynasty emperors. Randy Mcmullen, The Mercury News, "China’s eye-popping Cirque Mei comes to Palo Alto," 11 Sep. 2019 It was discovered by farmers in the 1970s after being buried as funerary art in 210 BC with Qin Shihuang, China’s first emperor. Eric Baculinao, NBC News, "Terra-cotta warrior’s thumb broken off, stolen from Philadelphia museum," 20 Feb. 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.

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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.

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Time Traveler for emperor

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for emperor

Last Updated

2 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Emperor.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emperor. Accessed 11 December 2019.

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More Definitions for emperor


How to pronounce emperor (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of emperor

: a man who rules an empire


em·​per·​or | \ ˈem-pər-ər How to pronounce emperor (audio) \

Kids Definition of emperor

: a man who rules an empire

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