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


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

More great empires and cultures have left their mark on Lebanon than on any of its neighbors, from the Phoenicians and Romans to the Christians, Ottomans, Armenians, and French. John Gregory-smith, Condé Nast Traveler, "In Lebanon, Let Food Be Your Guide," 16 Oct. 2018 As a crib to some of the world’s oldest civilizations, Yemen played an imperative role in the accession of empires and economies, beginning around 1000 BC. Hollie Mckay, Fox News, "Archaeologists fear biblical artifacts, monuments won't survive Yemen war," 9 Aug. 2018 But despite their past digs and hurtful comments, their fashion empire and huge runway shows continue to go on. Colleen Kratofil, PEOPLE.com, "Ashley Graham, Naomi Campbell Criticized for Walking Dolce & Gabbana Show After Selena Gomez Diss," 9 July 2018 So researchers long believed that the Aztec empire and Mixtec cultures must have traded with peoples of the Southwest for the culturally important blue-green mineral. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Where Did the Aztecs Get Their Turquoise?," 16 June 2018 But now the pair are adding to their empire and venturing into a whole new realm of publishing: children's books. Brittney Morgan, House Beautiful, "The Property Brothers Are Coming Out With The Cutest Children's Book," 6 June 2018 Such are its attractions that Comcast views the business as one of the most attractive parts of the Murdoch empire and a steppingstone for its own expansion beyond the United States. BostonGlobe.com, "UK clears way for bidding war between Comcast and Disney over Sky," 5 June 2018 William Busch is the great-grandson of Adolphus Busch, who founded the Anheuser-Busch brewing empire, and the son of Gussie Busch, the brewery magnate who died in 1989. NBC News, "Anheuser-Busch heir faces charges for pushing boy, 11, into wall," 26 Mar. 2018 The line is yet another extension of her ever-expanding lifestyle empire, which includes wall coverings, paint, Loloi rugs, a magazine, a bakery, a restaurant, a real estate business, multiple books, and an upcoming TV network. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "Fixer Upper's Joanna Gaines Expands Her Empire With A New Line For Anthropologie," 14 Feb. 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.

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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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Statistics for empire

Last Updated

13 May 2019

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Time Traveler for empire

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

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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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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).


a strong desire or propensity

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