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

Raised in a rugged Canadian frontier town, Hill arrived in the capital city as a teenager in the 1850s and, with no formal schooling past the age of 14, built a national dynasty on the rails — the largest railroad empire in the country. Frederick Melo, Twin Cities, "Nearing the century mark, downtown St. Paul’s James J. Hill Center to close in July," 11 June 2019 In the pilot, Danny explained that Michelle, who was played by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen in the originally series, was too busy running a fashion empire in New York City to come home. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "What'll Happen to Lori Loughlin's 'Fuller House' Character, Aunt Becky? Here's the Most Solid Theory," 6 June 2019 In the months that followed, the Starks, whose restaurant empire in Wine Country includes six popular businesses, became an integral part of recovery efforts. Justin Phillips, SFChronicle.com, "Return of the Starks: Willi’s Wine Bar reopens in Santa Rosa after Tubbs wildfire," 5 June 2019 Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop empire in only expanding, with the actress launching a new swimwear line for 2019 under her G Label. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Gwyneth Paltrow Looks Flawless in Goop Swimwear," 27 May 2019 Four years and a billion dollars later, Kylie Cosmetics is an empire in its own right, and has branched out into nearly every color cosmetic category. Glamour, "We Tried Everything From Kylie Skin—Here Are Our First Impressions," 22 May 2019 Robbins is one of the most famous motivational speakers, having built an empire in the 1990s and 2000s. Vogue, "Self-Help Guru Tony Robbins Is Accused of Inappropriate Conduct, Including Harassment," 17 May 2019 The sisters have spawned multiple successful beauty empires in Kylie Cosmetics and KKW Beauty, Khloé Kardashian is chugging away with Good American, Kourtney Kardashian just got Poosh off the ground... Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Kendall Jenner Filed a Trademark and Is Reportedly Launching Her Own Beauty Brand," 10 May 2019 While Jeep remains part of the FCA empire, in 2015 Ferrari was floated on the New York Stock Exchange. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Sergio Marchionne, the man who saved Fiat Chrysler, dies at 66," 25 July 2018

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

24 Jun 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).


to take the place or position of

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