em·per·or | \ ˈem-pər-ər , -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, -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 guards decided to make Claudius their puppet emperor. Amanda Foreman, WSJ, "At Age 50, a Time of Second Acts," 28 June 2018 The 2,200-year-old tomb of Lady Xia, the grandmother of China’s first emperor Qin Shihuang, basically contains a zoo. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Extinct Gibbon Species Discovered in 2,000-Year-Old Chinese Tomb," 23 June 2018 The tomb may have belonged to Lady Xia, the grandmother of China’s first emperor Qin Shihuang, who oversaw the construction of the Great Wall of China and the famous Terracotta Army. James Rogers, Fox News, "Mysterious remains of extinct ape discovered in ancient Chinese tomb," 22 June 2018 The unfortunate ape was buried with a noblewoman believed to be Lady Xia, the grandmother of Qin Shi Huang, the first Chinese emperor, who ruled from 259 to 210 BCE. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Extinct gibbon in ancient Chinese tomb hints at other lost primate species," 22 June 2018 And so, then in the classroom, he's treated like an emperor. Glenn Whipp, latimes.com, "How 'Barry' gave Henry Winkler another signature role decades after playing Fonzie," 30 May 2018 Also starring in the movie is Jet Li as the emperor, Donnie Yen as Mulan's mentor, and Gong Li as the movie's villain. Mia Galuppo, The Hollywood Reporter, "Disney's 'Mulan' Casts 'Pitch Perfect' Actor Utkarsh Ambudkar," 23 May 2018 The historian Edward Gibbon, describing the Roman emperor Septimius Severus, argued: The true interest of an absolute monarch generally coincides with that of his people. Henry Farrell, Margaret Levi, Vox, "Mark Zuckerberg runs a nation-state, and he’s the king," 9 Apr. 2018 None of the men who wrote and signed these documents sought to be tyrants, dictators, emperors, or even kings. Charles E. F. Millard, National Review, "China’s Strength Mustn’t Blind Us to Its Totalitarian Brutality," 15 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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Statistics for emperor

Last Updated

9 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for emperor

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

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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

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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).


alleviating pain or harshness

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