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em·​pire ˈem-ˌpī(-ə)r How to pronounce empire (audio)
: 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
: the territory of such a political unit
: something resembling a political empire
especially : an extensive territory or enterprise under single domination or control
: imperial sovereignty, rule, or dominion
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


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

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
Made fabulously wealthy by a QVC product empire, Deborah could easily ride into the Nevada sunset, content with her status as a cultural icon. Graham Hillard, Washington Examiner - Political News and Conservative Analysis About Congress, the President, and the Federal Government, 12 July 2024 Their father Reginald, alive and well, has stepped out of the shadows and into the public eye, overseeing a powerful and nefarious business empire. Denise Petski, Deadline, 9 July 2024 And then there’s the family’s reality TV empire that Jenner has orchestrated. Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times, 7 July 2024 Redstone has blessed the deal with Ellison, which would end her family’s stewardship of a media empire after four decades, but still needs to give final approval. Prarthana Prakash, Fortune, 7 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for empire 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'empire.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


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


1852, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near empire

Cite this Entry

“Empire.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empire. Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


em·​pire ˈem-ˌpī(ə)r How to pronounce empire (audio)
: a major political unit with a large territory or a number of territories or peoples under one ruler with total authority
especially : one having an emperor as chief of state
: the territory of such a unit
: something resembling an empire
especially : a large group of businesses under one control
: the state of being under or of having complete rule or control

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