emp·​ty | \ ˈem(p)-tē How to pronounce empty (audio) \
emptier; emptiest

Definition of empty

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : containing nothing empty shelves
b : not occupied or inhabited an empty building
d : not pregnant empty heifer
e : null sense 4a the empty set
2a : lacking reality, substance, meaning, or value : hollow an empty pleasure
b : destitute of effect or force an empty threat
c : devoid of sense : foolish
3 : hungry
4a : idle empty hours
b : having no purpose or result : useless
5 : marked by the absence of human life, activity, or comfort an empty silence


emptied; emptying

Definition of empty (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to make empty : remove the contents of empty a purse
b : deprive, divest a phrase emptied of all meaning
c : to discharge (itself) of contents
d : to fire (a repeating firearm) until empty
2 : to remove from what holds or encloses

intransitive verb

1 : to become empty the theater emptied quickly
2 : to discharge contents the river empties into the ocean


plural empties

Definition of empty (Entry 3 of 3)

: something (such as a bottle or can) that is empty

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Other Words from empty


emptily \ ˈem(p)-​tə-​lē How to pronounce empty (audio) \ adverb
emptiness \ ˈem(p)-​tē-​nəs How to pronounce empty (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for empty

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Verb

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Choose the Right Synonym for empty


empty, vacant, blank, void, vacuous mean lacking contents which could or should be present. empty suggests a complete absence of contents. an empty bucket vacant suggests an absence of appropriate contents or occupants. a vacant apartment blank stresses the absence of any significant, relieving, or intelligible features on a surface. a blank wall void suggests absolute emptiness as far as the mind or senses can determine. a statement void of meaning vacuous suggests the emptiness of a vacuum and especially the lack of intelligence or significance. a vacuous facial expression

synonyms see in addition vain

Examples of empty in a Sentence

Adjective The arena was completely empty. She felt trapped in an empty marriage. unhappy people leading empty lives Verb She emptied the contents of her purse onto the table. It's your turn to empty the trash.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Just around the corner, the brand new Weidner Field opened its 8,000-seat soccer field and event space in May, converting an empty lot into an open-air entertainment hub. Brandon Schultz, Forbes, 5 June 2021 The woman told police that the man offered her a ride back to her hotel from a QuikTrip gas station but instead took her to an empty parking lot. Monica D. Spencer, The Arizona Republic, 5 June 2021 One of the goals: to construct Midtown City Market on the empty parking lot where Standard Grocery used to be. Amelia Pak-harvey, The Indianapolis Star, 4 June 2021 There's an empty lot now where a Popeye's stood before being burned down last year. Kavita Kumar, Star Tribune, 30 May 2021 During holiday times, the empty lot now occupied by the library had been used for the community’s popular annual Festival of Light. Mark Lamster, Dallas News, 28 May 2021 Mary & Elizabeth Hospital to be built where an empty former medical building and parking lot currently stand, at 4801 Manslick Road and 1936 Bluegrass Avenue. Lucas Aulbach, The Courier-Journal, 21 May 2021 Former customers might regard the empty dirt lot where the Indian restaurant once stood as a burial plot for an immigrant’s dream. Martin Kuz, The Christian Science Monitor, 19 May 2021 That proposal calls for renovating the five-story former Harri Hoffmann Co. building and building a 10-story addition on the empty lot just south of that building. Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 17 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Government decisions to demolish buildings in the name of urban renewal in the 1950s and 1960s, relocate businesses and run a highway through Greenwood helped empty out the district. WSJ, 28 May 2021 The goal of meditation is not to zone out, empty your thoughts, withdraw from the world or get high on life. Bryan Robinson, Forbes, 22 May 2021 As for remote work, doomsayers have been arguing that technological advances would empty big cities since the dial-up days. New York Times, 15 May 2021 Today, as intensive care units empty out and fear is fading, the families of those who died recently of COVID-19 struggle with their feelings. Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times, 12 May 2021 As a result, HHS quickly ramped up its capacity by opening temporary shelters, allowing the Border Patrol stations to largely empty out but imposing a massive burden on the federal shelter system. Joe Walsh, Forbes, 8 May 2021 Since it’s often difficult to empty out sticky pastes, gels, and creams, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of those substances are discarded annually, still stuck to the insides of their containers. BostonGlobe.com, 29 Apr. 2021 As the title game ended and the Wildcats began celebrating, the Alamodome started to empty out, but Smith made his way from his nosebleed seat down as far as he could before his progress was stopped by a metal railing. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, 10 Apr. 2021 At the start, King said she was told to empty out her purse. NBC News, 4 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The entire region is a buyer’s market, burdened by other big empties. At A Great Price, ProPublica, 18 May 2020 The horses are saddled in the paddock in two shifts, and at least one stall is kept empty between horses. Joe Drape, New York Times, 12 May 2020 Coronavirus empties pediatrician offices in Michigan, decreases vaccinations As COVID-19 continues to churn through southeast Michigan and elsewhere, wary parents are avoiding health care settings. Amy Huschka, Detroit Free Press, 28 Apr. 2020 More than Christmas or New Year’s Day, more than Easter week, when the city empties out. Sylvia Poggioli, The New York Review of Books, 29 Mar. 2020 Heiskanen’s goal came with the Stars’ net empty and was his first since Dec. 3, a stretch of 33 games. Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, 28 Feb. 2020 Days, even weeks, in a tent or a bivouac, the hours empty of all but numbing chores and the howling of the wind. Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, 24 Feb. 2020 Arlington led by one goal with the Woburn net empty. Michael Mcmahon, BostonGlobe.com, 5 Feb. 2020 The study will analyze a 735-mile span of the nation's longest river and its tributaries — a stretch that runs from Nebraska's northeast corner to eastern Missouri, where the Missouri River empties into the Mississippi River. Thomas Frank, Scientific American, 3 Feb. 2020

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


1844, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for empty


Middle English, from Old English ǣmettig unoccupied, from ǣmetta leisure, perhaps from ǣ- without + -metta (probably akin to mōtan to have to) — more at must

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Time Traveler for empty

Time Traveler

The first known use of empty was before the 12th century

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Statistics for empty

Last Updated

15 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Empty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empty. Accessed 25 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for empty



English Language Learners Definition of empty

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: containing nothing
: not having any people : not occupied
: having no real purpose or value



English Language Learners Definition of empty (Entry 2 of 3)

: to remove the contents of (something) : to make (something) empty
: to remove all of (something) from a container
: to become empty



English Language Learners Definition of empty (Entry 3 of 3)

: an empty bottle or can


emp·​ty | \ ˈemp-tē How to pronounce empty (audio) \
emptier; emptiest

Kids Definition of empty

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : containing nothing an empty box
2 : not occupied or lived in : vacant an empty house an empty seat
3 : not sincere or meaningful an empty threat

Other Words from empty

emptiness noun the emptiness of outer space


emptied; emptying

Kids Definition of empty (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to remove the contents of Please empty the wastebasket.
2 : to remove all of (something) from a container Empty the flour into the bin.
3 : to become unoccupied The school quickly emptied.
4 : to flow into The river empties into the gulf.

Choose the Right Synonym for empty


empty and vacant both mean not having anything inside. empty is used for a thing that has nothing in it at all. He threw away the empty bag. It may also be used instead of vacant. The house sat empty until a new family moved in. vacant is the opposite of occupied and is used of something that is not occupied usually only for a while. That apartment is vacant right now.

More from Merriam-Webster on empty

Nglish: Translation of empty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of empty for Arabic Speakers


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