empirical

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

empirically

play \im-ˈpir-i-k(ə-)lē, em-\ adverb

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Examples of empirical in a Sentence

  1. 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 NicholsCeramics MonthlyFebruary 2002
  2. No religion, new or old, is subject to empirical proof, so what we have is a contest between faiths. —Harvey CoxAtlanticMarch 1999
  3. They collected plenty of empirical data from their experiments.

  4. guidelines for raising children that are based on empirical evidence

Recent Examples of empirical from the Web

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.

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."

Origin and Etymology of empirical


EMPIRICAL Defined for English Language Learners

empirical

adjective

Definition of empirical for English Language Learners

  • : based on testing or experience


Medical Dictionary

empirical

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

medical Definition of empirical

1 archaic
a :following or used in the practice of the empirics — compare rational 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

empirically

play \-i-k(ə-)lē\ adverb


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