empirical

adjective
em·​pir·​i·​cal | \im-ˈpir-i-kəl, em-\
variants: or less commonly empiric \ im-​ˈpir-​ik , em-​ \

Definition of empirical 

1 : originating in or based on observation or experience empirical data

2 : relying on experience or observation alone often without due regard for system and theory an empirical basis for the theory

3 : capable of being verified or disproved by observation or experiment empirical laws

4 : of or relating to empiricism

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Other Words from empirical

empirically \ im-​ˈpir-​i-​k(ə-​)lē , em-​ \ adverb

Empirical Has Roots in Latin and Greek

When empirical first appeared as an adjective in English, it meant simply "in the manner of an empiric." An empiric was a member of an ancient sect of doctors who practiced medicine based exclusively on experience, as contrasted with those who relied on theory or philosophy. The name empiric derives from Latin empiricus, itself from Greek empeirikos ("experienced"). It ultimately traces back to the verb peiran, meaning "to try, attempt, or experiment."

Examples of empirical in a Sentence

Eventually, access to electron microscopes and X-ray diffraction technology provided the necessary empirical evidence to test the hypotheses, and the jigsaw pieces began to fall into place. — Gail Nichols, Ceramics Monthly, February 2002 No religion, new or old, is subject to empirical proof, so what we have is a contest between faiths. — Harvey Cox, Atlantic, March 1999 They collected plenty of empirical data from their experiments. guidelines for raising children that are based on empirical evidence
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Recent Examples on the Web

These effective strategies were identified decades ago and have convincing and significant empirical support. Cindi May, Scientific American, "The Problem With “Learning Styles”," 29 May 2018 In a vacuum, this would be fine; in a society, however, this is a deadly disease that attacks the very notion of empirical reality. Bijan Stephen, The Verge, "Elon Musk thinks you can crowdsource truth, but that’s not how the internet works," 24 May 2018 The fashion industry illustrates how machines can intrude even on workers known more for their creativity than for cold empirical judgments. New York Times, "High-Skilled White-Collar Work? Machines Can Do That, Too," 7 July 2018 The lack of empirical data is no surprise to Julie Carpenter, a research fellow at the Ethics and Emerging Sciences group at California Polytechnic State University. Ben Guarino, Anchorage Daily News, "New report finds no evidence that having sex with robots is healthy," 5 June 2018 The lack of empirical data is no surprise to Julie Carpenter, a research fellow at the Ethics and Emerging Sciences group at California Polytechnic State University . Ben Guarino, chicagotribune.com, "New report finds no evidence that having sex with robots is healthy," 5 June 2018 The lack of empirical data is no surprise to Julie Carpenter, a research fellow at the Ethics and Emerging Sciences group at California Polytechnic State University. Ben Guarino, ajc, "New report finds no evidence that having sex with robots is healthy," 5 June 2018 Defendants admit as much, conceding that several of ORR’s vetting practices have no empirical foundation, but are rather self-serving hedges against political reproach. Edvard Pettersson, Bloomberg.com, "‘Irrational’ Child-Detention Process Leaves Minors in Custody," 25 June 2018 The most careful empirical analyses conducted by urban economists have failed to detect a rise in displacement within gentrifying neighbourhoods. The Economist, "In praise of gentrification," 21 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'empirical.' 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 empirical

1576, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for empirical

empiric "of physicians in ancient Greece and Rome holding that treatment should be based on observation rather than theory" (going back to Middle English emperic, borrowed from early Medieval Latin empīricus, borrowed from Greek empeirikós, "based on observation (of medical treatment), experienced") + -al entry 1 — more at empiric

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Statistics for empirical

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for empirical

The first known use of empirical was in 1576

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More Definitions for empirical

empirical

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of empirical

: based on testing or experience

empirical

adjective
em·​pir·​i·​cal | \-i-kəl \
variants: also empiric \ -​ik \

Medical Definition of empirical 

1 archaic

a : following or used in the practice of the empirics — compare rational sense 2

b : being or befitting a quack or charlatan

2 : originating in or based on observation or experiment much medical lore had had an empirical origin…centuries of trial-and-error gropings after remedies— R. H. Shryock

3 : capable of being confirmed, verified, or disproved by observation or experiment empirical statements or laws

Other Words from empirical

empirically \ -​i-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

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