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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for empire

Synonyms: Noun


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of empire in a Sentence


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 war felled Russian, German, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman empires at a stroke. K.n.c., The Economist, "The radical politics of futurists and fascists—and us, here, today," 19 July 2019 That preparation is obvious in the sweeping empire Serena has built off the court. Jamie Lisanti, SI.com, "Serving Notice: Serena Williams Styles On and Off the Court," 18 July 2019 In the case of the Third Reich, redesigning Berlin to be a world capital in its image meant monuments at a size and scale never before seen in history (though the ideas were all copied from past empires). Curbed Staff, Curbed, "Obsessed with utopias? Read the books that inspired ‘Nice Try!’," 18 July 2019 Mike Fleiss, the man behind a TV dating show empire designed to bring couples together, is being accused of domestic violence by his pregnant wife, Laura. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, "'Bachelor' creator Mike Fleiss accused of abusing pregnant wife, demanding she get abortion," 17 July 2019 Needing ambassadors like Eddy to bind this increasingly sprawling empire together with a shared sense of mission, Aramco assembled a legion of visionaries. Darren Dochuk, The New Republic, "Men of God and the Genesis of the U.S.-Saudi Relationship," 17 July 2019 Jones is known by many as the most visible fan of University of Kentucky college sports, who has created a media empire based on the school's rabid fan base. Phillip M. Bailey, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky Sports Radio's Matt Jones yanked from TV show amid US Senate speculation," 16 July 2019 The book was first published in 2006, and coincided with a BBC documentary hosted by Johnson about the Roman empire. Rob Picheta, CNN, "Boris Johnson faces more accusations of Islamophobia over newly-unearthed text," 16 July 2019 Barely a decade later their eponymous brand, Veronica Beard, grew into a fashion empire from that coveted jacket — a play on the classic blazer with an interchangeable dickey favored by Michelle Obama and Gwyneth Paltrow. Catherine Bigelow, SFChronicle.com, "Recoding retail: Women bring digital savvy to art, pop-ups and fashion," 16 July 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about empire

Statistics for empire

Last Updated

22 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for empire

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on empire

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with empire

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for empire

Spanish Central: Translation of empire

Nglish: Translation of empire for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of empire for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about empire

Comments on empire

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


something desired as essential

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
True or False

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

Bee Cubed

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!