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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
For Garza, freedom meant fighting for civil rights as well as confronting empire. TIME, 9 Apr. 2024 As if Shari Redstone’s media empire wasn’t under enough pressure, Paramount Global now is in the final few weeks of its most recent carriage agreement with Charter, the nation’s second largest cable operator behind Comcast. Cynthia Littleton, Variety, 6 Apr. 2024 As Chinese EVs surged to challenge Tesla’s dominance, Musk was tending to his sprawling empire, which includes rocket-maker SpaceX, brain-chip developer Neuralink, and social media giant X, which Musk acquired in 2022. Hyunjoo Jin, USA TODAY, 5 Apr. 2024 Bitcoin booths opened in the Grand Bazaar, next to the gold-trading stalls where people once sheltered their money when empires collapsed. Leif Wenar, WIRED, 2 Apr. 2024 The worldwide leader in sports has a media empire that spans the globe with broadcast channels in the U.S., Latin America, Africa, and Europe, its own streaming service, and now a budding sports gambling operation after a $1.5 billion licensing deal with Penn Entertainment. Paolo Confino, Fortune, 2 Apr. 2024 This is the last Bay Area location of what was once a small Bob’s empire. Martha Ross, The Mercury News, 1 Apr. 2024 The Huy Fong Sriracha empire dates back to 1979 when David Tran, a Vietnam War refugee, arrived in Los Angeles. Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY, 28 Mar. 2024 It’s located in Piraeus, the port of Athens, where ancient travelers would often arrive and where the Athenian fleet was built and berthed in the days of Pericles to rule the empire. Tony Perrottet, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 Mar. 2024

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 17 Apr. 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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