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

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 Russia’s Orthodox Church has undergirded Mr. Putin’s geopolitical ambitions, holding Russia to be a defender of Russia’s Christian civilization and therefore justified in seeking control over countries of the former Soviet Union and Russian empire. Alan Cullison, WSJ, 31 July 2022 Frank, of German heritage, was born in 1899 in Ukraine, then part of the Russian empire. Dave Mcintyre, Washington Post, 14 July 2022 Sloviansk has seen its share of tumult since it was founded in the 17th century as an outpost of the Russian empire. New York Times, 8 July 2022 The coal dug from here fueled the Russian empire, then the Soviet Union, whose propagandists depicted the region in one poster as a heart pumping blood to factories all over the U.S.S.R. Nabih Bulosstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 30 June 2022 Putin knows his dream of a new Russian empire that dominates eastern and central Europe and holds Western Europe in fear of Moscow is in dire jeopardy. Steve Forbes, Forbes, 5 May 2022 When Russia invaded, numerous foreign policy and military experts have said, the plan was to replace Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's government with a regime that would happily join the growing Russian empire. Jason Fields, The Week, 22 Mar. 2022 As American planters sought to expand their empire of unfreedom across the South, the Five Tribes stood in the way, and the United States embarked on a devastating series of land clearances. Philip Deloria, The New Yorker, 18 July 2022 One of those tributes came from Silvio Berlusconi, the onetime prime minister and media mogul whom Mr. Scalfari had accused of creating huge conflicts of interest between his ascent to high office and his labyrinthine business empire. New York Times, 16 July 2022 See More

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.

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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near empire



empire blue

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Last Updated

3 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Empire.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empire. Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on empire

Nglish: Translation of empire for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of empire for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about empire


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