em·​pire | \ ˈem-ˌpī(-ə)r How to pronounce empire (audio) \

Definition of empire

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : a major political unit having a territory of great extent or a number of territories or peoples under a single sovereign authority especially : one having an emperor as chief of state
(2) : the territory of such a political unit
b : something resembling a political empire especially : an extensive territory or enterprise under single domination or control
2 : imperial sovereignty, rule, or dominion
3 capitalized [Empire State, nickname for New York] : a juicy apple with dark red skin that is a cross between a McIntosh apple and a Red Delicious apple


Em·​pire | \ ˈäm-ˌpir How to pronounce Empire (audio) , ˈem-ˌpī(-ə)r How to pronounce Empire (audio) \

Definition of Empire (Entry 2 of 2)

: of, relating to, or characteristic of a style (as of clothing or furniture) popular in early 19th century France

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Synonyms for empire

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of empire in a Sentence

Noun She built a tiny business into a worldwide empire. He controlled a cattle empire in the heart of Texas.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Latitude Margaritaville enterprise is a joint venture between Buffett’s business empire and developer Minto Communities. al, "‘Wheel of Fortune:’ Woman wins home in ‘Margaritaville’-themed community," 29 Apr. 2021 From taking sugar in her tea to wearing cotton clothing, the museum will seek to showcase how Austen and her family were linked to products of the empire and slave trade. Kaelan Deese, Washington Examiner, "Jane Austen's love for tea will face 'historical interrogation' over links to slavery," 19 Apr. 2021 Rather than being influencers in the traditional sense, the pair is devoting their energy to the budding Archewell empire and all of its projects. Ineye Komonibo, refinery29.com, "Keeping Up With Meghan & Harry Just Got That Much Harder," 11 Jan. 2021 Because excellence never truly ends, EW is looking back on some of Hall's best moments that got her here, in appreciation of her lasting empire that's only just getting started. Joey Nolfi, EW.com, "8 moments that prove Jaida Essence Hall's RuPaul's Drag Race reign is forever," 23 Apr. 2021 Now that Gibson is gone, Ruby says his empire might never have been built without him. Keith Pandolfi, The Enquirer, "The swashbuckling legacy of Jimmy Gibson," 23 Apr. 2021 In the past five years, Quinn completed an exploration of LDS Church finances from its humble beginnings to its current global empire. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Historian D. Michael Quinn, who was booted from the LDS Church as part of the ‘September Six’ but remained a believer, dies at 77," 22 Apr. 2021 After Islamic State captured a swath of territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014, its territorial empire collapsed under an assault by Iraqi and Syrian forces backed by thousands of U.S. airstrikes and a parallel military effort organized by Iran. Jared Malsin, WSJ, "Russia Strikes Islamic State Strongholds in Syria as Insurgency Gains Ground," 20 Apr. 2021 After years of growing its smoky empire, Fat Boyz Barbecue has shrunk – again – with the permanent closure of its Coral Springs location, owner and pitmaster Jarael Holston-Jones told the Sun Sentinel on Tuesday. Phillip Valys, sun-sentinel.com, "Pour out some sauce: Fat Boyz Barbecue permanently closes in Coral Springs," 20 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'empire.' 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 empire


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


1852, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for empire


Middle English, "supreme power, position of an emperor, territory under an emperor's rule," borrowed from Anglo-French, going back to Latin imperium "authority over family members and slaves exercised by the head of a household, supreme administrative authority, dominion, power exercised by a Roman emperor," from imperāre "to give orders, exercise authority, hold political power" + -ium, deverbal suffix of function or state — more at emperor


French, from (le premier) Empire the first Empire of France

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Time Traveler for empire

Time Traveler

The first known use of empire was in the 14th century

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Statistics for empire

Last Updated

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Empire.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empire. Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for empire


em·​pire | \ ˈem-ˌpīr How to pronounce empire (audio) \

Kids Definition of empire

1 : a group of territories or peoples under one ruler the Roman empire
2 : a country whose ruler is called an emperor

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