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 The man retreated back into the empty home, where he was found dead, according to the police statement. Fox News, "Man killed in Georgia after lunging at officers with knife: police," 13 Apr. 2021 So, Kanter can expect about 20 minutes of action per game, certainly easier than playing for 30-plus minutes on an empty stomach and craving liquids. oregonlive, "Portland Trail Blazers’ Enes Kanter ready to use ‘mental strength’ to play while fasting for Ramadan," 13 Apr. 2021 Rents collapsed; hotel rooms went empty and oil prices turned negative. The Economist, "Pricing in pricing out American inflation shoots up to 2.6%," 13 Apr. 2021 An empty lounge chair imparts a conflated sense of presence and absence while evoking a mood of isolation and loss against the chatter of radio and television broadcasts. Bernadette Driscoll Engelstad, Smithsonian Magazine, "Groundbreaking New Center Unveils World’s Largest Collection of Inuit Art," 13 Apr. 2021 The officers then blasted holes in her empty house with shotguns and tear-gas grenades for the next few hours, rendering the home uninhabitable, and then received immunity when the woman sued them. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Are States Really Abolishing Qualified Immunity for Cops? Not Exactly.," 13 Apr. 2021 The accompanying video shows the band performing on the roof of an empty music venue while wearing gas masks in a nod to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Claire Shaffer, Rolling Stone, "Naked Raygun Reveal First Album in Over 30 Years With New Single," 13 Apr. 2021 Virtual courts fulfill the constitutional requirement that proceedings be public either by screening them in nearly empty courtrooms or (routinely in Michigan, sometimes in Texas) live-streaming them online. Eric Scigliano, The Atlantic, "Zoom Court Is Changing How Justice Is Served," 13 Apr. 2021 Nino Niederreiter cut into the lead with a goal at 13:54, but Sam Gagner calmed things with down an empty net goal in the final minute. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Red Wings find offense right after big trade, win, 3-1, at Carolina," 13 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Beginning with Middleton’s notable three-pointer to make it 88-67, the Bucks went on a 17-5 stretch to take a 102-72 lead and let Budenholzer empty the rest of his bench. Jim Owczarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bucks 124, Magic 87: Giannis doesn't play, but trip to Orlando proves to be winning remedy," 11 Apr. 2021 And keep in mind that debit card transactions are less secure than using a credit card since thieves could intercept your PIN code and empty your coffers. cleveland, "Put the cap on gas prices: 6 ways to save at the pump," 3 Apr. 2021 Avoid breeding mosquitos; empty all bowls, dishes, buckets, and anything else that holds standing water. Nan Sterman, San Diego Union-Tribune, "In April, home gardeners, native plants are putting on a show," 3 Apr. 2021 Horton’s design left it to students to empty their waste baskets downstairs, but families have more stuff to dispose of. John King, San Francisco Chronicle, "How a stylish Oakland dorm has become much-needed homeless housing," 1 Apr. 2021 The mayor’s advocates used the union’s support for Brockhouse to claim the then-councilman would empty the city coffers to satisfy the union. Joshua Fechter, San Antonio Express-News, "In dramatic move, San Antonio firefighters union won't back Greg Brockhouse for mayor," 10 Mar. 2021 For good measure, tap Cached Images and Files to empty out everything slowing down your browser. Kim Komando, USA TODAY, "Privacy tip: How to delete cookies from your phone," 18 Feb. 2021 When not in use, or when the foredeck needs to be cleared for the helipad, the pool can empty in seconds and the sides disappear. Howard Walker, Robb Report, "Boat of the Week: This Epic 433-Foot Megayacht Concept Has a Sea-Salt Pool That Disappears When Not in Use," 19 Mar. 2021 By the middle of the third quarter Sunday, Popovich was able to empty his bench, giving double-digit minutes in the second half to Luka Samanic, Tre Jones and Quinndary Weatherspoon. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "The triple take: 76ers 134, Spurs 99," 14 Mar. 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, "The Big Empty: How Corporate Headquarters Have Abandoned America’s Suburbs," 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, "How Sports-Starved Bettors Made a Nebraska Horse Track Must-See TV," 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, "Coronavirus live updates, April 28: No tiptoeing through the tulips, Holland mayor says," 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, "Pandemic Journal, March 23–29," 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, "Following a hard-fought loss in Boston, the Stars realize they’re not so far behind the league’s best," 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, "Survivor’s Guilt in the Mountains," 24 Feb. 2020 Arlington led by one goal with the Woburn net empty. Michael Mcmahon, BostonGlobe.com, "Angelina DiGirolamo helps Woburn girls’ hockey salvage a tie vs. Arlington," 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, "U.S. Army Corps Looks to Avoid Repeat of 2019 Midwest Floods," 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

16 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Empty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empty. Accessed 18 Apr. 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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on empty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for empty

Nglish: Translation of empty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of empty for Arabic Speakers

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