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


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.

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 But investigators came up empty, and the case went cold — though never closed. Alec Sirken, CBS News, "How two moms chatting at a water park helped crack a Thanksgiving cold case murder," 29 Nov. 2019 By the time the game was over, the Bulls looked as forlorn and despondent as the Black Friday shopper at Wal-Mart who came away empty handed in a futile attempt to land the final pair of $129 Apple AirPods with the charging case included. Mike Bianchi, orlandosentinel.com, "USF would love to have UCF’s ‘disappointing’ season | Commentary," 28 Nov. 2019 The extraordinary shelter put together by the city of Deming, New Mexico has been empty for weeks. Morgan Smith, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: Trump didn’t solve the migrant crisis — he just made it inhuman," 27 Nov. 2019 The offensive line is a mess even with the return of left tackle Nate Solder from injury and despite a solid defensive showing, the Giants came up empty again in a 19-14 loss. Brad Biggs, chicagotribune.com, "NFL power rankings for Week 13: The No. 1 Ravens and No. 2 49ers will meet on Sunday; Bears inch back into top 20," 26 Nov. 2019 The Oregon schools came up empty in Pac-12 road games last night, the Ducks losing at Arizona State and the Beavers at Washington State. oregonlive, "Which team wins next weekend’s anti-climactic Civil War game? Issues & Answers," 24 Nov. 2019 When the corral was empty, the next round began: animals entered and ran in a circle. Juliana Hanle, Scientific American, "The Fight for the Reindeer," 18 Nov. 2019 There are two full rows of seats reserved for members of Congress inside the hearing room, but most are empty. NBC News, "Members in the room react to opening statements," 14 Nov. 2019 Notre Dame came up empty in the red zone last week for the first three times all season. Mike Berardino, Indianapolis Star, "Notre Dame WR Chase Claypool 'needs the ball more,' says ACC Network analyst Eric Mac Lain," 8 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Nearly half of Haag’s inventory of liquor was seized and ceremoniously emptied into the sewer by a U.S. marshal. Dawn Mitchell, Indianapolis Star, "'Cut Price Drugs': Remembering Haag Drug, your neighborhood pharmacy," 22 Nov. 2019 Federal regulators had recently renewed a permit allowing Turnkey Landfill in Rochester, N.H., to send as much as 100,000 gallons of daily runoff to a Lowell treatment plant that empties into the long-polluted river. BostonGlobe.com, "The Lowell treatment plant has been accepting runoff from Turnkey since 2013. The plant lacks the expensive equipment needed to filter out PFAS and the regular wastewater treatment process can make the chemicals more toxic, environmental advocates say.," 8 Nov. 2019 Open the tea bags and empty the contents into the egg mixture or the simmering cream. CBS News, "The Dish: Chef Whitney Otawka of Greyfield Inn," 2 Nov. 2019 The man with the pistol moves closer to the facedown López and empties his clip into his head. Washington Post, "Lawyer: Honduran government could be behind prison murder," 29 Oct. 2019 Ephraim, younger and less weathered, will perform the lowlier chores, like scrubbing the floors and emptying the waste into the waves. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "“The Lighthouse” Is Salted with Madness," 18 Oct. 2019 Those drains emptied into nearby Rainbow Brook, a small tributary of the Farmington River. Gregory B. Hladky, courant.com, "Firefighting foam chemicals used to put out B-17 crash flames reached the Farmington River," 17 Oct. 2019 In areas lacking sufficient waste management systems, trash often ends up in creeks and rivers that empty into the ocean. Kathleen Toner, CNN, "He's doing the 'dirty work' to keep plastic out of the ocean," 17 Oct. 2019 Others had the opposite impulse and emptied refrigerators into coolers, just in case. Los Angeles Times, "Scrambling to prep for an imminent blackout that took all day to arrive," 10 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Then again, their try-hard meter is on empty and Young would help their pass rush. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions draft watch: Up to No. 6 pick now as Chase Young dream lives on," 2 Dec. 2019 Lake Washington is essentially a wide spot in the state’s longest river, the 310-mile St. Johns, which forms near Vero Beach, flows north near Orlando and through Jacksonville and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Kevin Spear, orlandosentinel.com, "Melbourne water supply found to contain potentially toxic algae," 19 July 2019 Police found two bottles of vodka — Tito's and Absolut — both about two-thirds empty behind the driver's seat along with a small cup that smelled of alcohol. Freep.com, "Violent traffic stop cited in ex-MSP official's lawsuit. We have the video.," 3 Oct. 2019 The spillway empties into Lake Pontchartrain and then into the Mississippi Sound and the freshwater resulted in a massive Harmful Algae Bloom that closed waters in Mississippi. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al, "Fishing disaster declared in Alabama, 6 other states," 26 Sep. 2019 The clean area of carpet that was revealed looked bizarre: a rectangle of dark-blue berber empty of debris, save for a single scrap of pink paper. J. Robert Lennon, The New Yorker, "The Loop," 19 Aug. 2019 Fans clamor for riders to toss them their empties at the finish, and scramble for the souvenirs. Washington Post, "Taste of the Tour: Salty riders in the town of “white gold”," 12 July 2019 Do all the empties, and the bag, go into the blue bin? Steve Lopezcolumnist, Los Angeles Times, "Column: I took the contents of my blue bin to the recycling center. Here’s what I learned," 17 Aug. 2019 The group continued to let their displeasure about the chicken sandwich drought be known, pulling up to the drive-through and allegedly throwing an empty can through the window. Breanna Edwards, Essence, "Customer Pulled Gun In Popeyes After Being Told Chicken Sandwiches Were Sold Out," 5 Sep. 2019

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

4 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Empty.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empties. Accessed 14 December 2019.

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More Definitions for empty


How to pronounce empty (audio)

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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on empty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for empty

Spanish Central: Translation of empty

Nglish: Translation of empty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of empty for Arabic Speakers

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