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

bare, blank, clean, devoid, stark, toom [chiefly Scottish], vacant, vacuous, void

Synonyms: Verb

clear, evacuate, vacate, void

Antonyms: Adjective


Antonyms: Verb

fill, load

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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


The arena was completely empty. She felt trapped in an empty marriage. unhappy people leading empty lives


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

Inside, the house is dark and empty, yet crisp bright daylight shines through a glass door. Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Giant': Film Review | TIFF 2019," 8 Sep. 2019 And, let’s be honest, no real surprise the Fenway Park stands were more than half empty at first pitch. Tara Sullivan, BostonGlobe.com, "Moments to savor for Red Sox have been precious and few," 7 Sep. 2019 Every other house along the dirt road hugging a stretch of Burgaw Creek sat empty — sold off or abandoned after years of hurricanes and worsening floods. Jack Healy, New York Times, "They Survived Dorian but Wonder How Many More Hurricanes They Can Withstand," 6 Sep. 2019 In 2010, she was diagnosed with breast cancer again—this time with ductal carcinoma, like before, and lobular carcinoma, a cancer that affects the lobules that produce milk and empty out in the milk ducts. Maggie O'neill, Health.com, "'I Got Implants After Surviving Breast Cancer Twice—Then I Learned They Cause Cancer'," 4 Sep. 2019 Work is scheduled to begin this weekend to empty several of the 10 single-shell tanks in the adjoining groups of tanks called the A and AX Tank Farms at the nuclear reservation north of Richland. Annette Cary, The Seattle Times, "After years of preparation, work to empty Hanford leak-prone waste tanks is ready to restart," 30 Aug. 2019 Remove collins glass from fridge/freezer or if using ice water, empty the glass. Danielle Pointdujour, Essence, "Toast To Your Hot Girl Summer With These Easy Labor Day Cocktails," 30 Aug. 2019 An elementary school empty for vacation served as the command center and billet for the operation. Felipe Fittipaldi, National Geographic, "Inside the faltering fight against illegal Amazon logging," 28 Aug. 2019 In a nearly empty Chase Field early Tuesday afternoon, loud grunts resonated from the home bullpen, followed by the pop of a catcher’s mitt. Nick Piecoro, azcentral, "Robbie Ray nears return as Arizona Diamondbacks' rotation remains in flux," 20 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Once crawling with Wall Street movers and shakers, the place has almost emptied out. Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times, "Jennifer Lopez is a star reborn in ‘Hustlers,’ a smart, bracing tale of strippers turned grifters," 8 Sep. 2019 This bad boy can literally empty itself out by means of the secondary suction located in its charging base, which will transfer the contents of the Roomba into a sealable bag. Isabelle Kagan, USA TODAY, "The best Roomba on the market is down to its lowest price ever," 22 Aug. 2019 After the riots, the neighborhood emptied out — and left behind the objects that once filled residents' lives. CBS News, "How a Detroit artist used what was left behind to transform his dying neighborhood," 21 Aug. 2019 Seeing an opportunity, Leviz emptied a clip in their direction. Aron Garst, The Verge, "Illegal tournaments and rejected visas: Team Vietnam’s long road to the PUBG Nations Cup," 20 Aug. 2019 When Target unveiled their partnership with Italian fashion house, Missoni in 2011, their shelves quickly emptied and their website crashed, all before noon. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Missoni is Coming Back to Target to Celebrate 20 Years of Design for All," 14 Aug. 2019 The other courts had emptied out, and the remaining players had gathered around her court to watch. Melody Chiu, PEOPLE.com, "Get a First Look at Kobe Bryant's Upcoming Young Adult Novel Legacy and The Queen," 26 July 2019 While neighbors gathered around and called 911, Brackin emptied his pockets and jumped into the chest-high water to save the two passengers inside the car. Cristóbal Reyes, orlandosentinel.com, "Off-duty Cocoa cop who rescued 2 in Titusville says what he did wasn’t “special”," 17 July 2019 But despite my worry that this would take a long time, as the line of people checking in emptied, the other agents started helping customers in the ticket line. Melissa Yeager, azcentral, "I got a $21 Vegas-to-Phoenix flight by buying at the airport. Here's how you can too.," 2 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 But they weren't finished -- the group pulled through the drive-through lane and threw an empty can through its window. Kendall Trammell And Deanna Hackney, CNN, "Popeyes customer pulls a gun after being told there were no more chicken sandwiches," 3 Sep. 2019 Anglers fish the section from the marker on both sides of the creek downstream into the waters of Turnagain Arm, where the creek empties beneath highway and railroad bridges. Matt Tunseth, Anchorage Daily News, "Early birds get the silvers at this roadside fishery near Anchorage," 16 Aug. 2019 The dugout empties, the rest of the team stampedes to shallow left field to find the hero and hug him or tackle him or tear at his jersey. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Electrifying walk-off wins are how these Dodgers roll," 7 Aug. 2019 On July 8 an employee of CVS in the 1500 block of Sheridan Road reported that two men entered the store empty handed and left carrying a bag filled with unknown items and a box of allergy medication and a box of Rogaine. Brian L. Cox, chicagotribune.com, "Blotter: Van stolen from Wilmette recovered," 16 July 2019 The offending intersection is where southbound traffic on Riggs Road, on which the church and an elementary school are located, empties into often-busy FM 1560 at a single stop sign. Bruce Selcraig, ExpressNews.com, "Helotes drivers want quick solution to “free for all” intersection," 11 June 2019 The customers who shop at record stores are leaving empty handed, shaking their heads in disbelief. Independent Retailers, Billboard, "An Open Letter to the Majors From Independent Record Stores (Guest Op-Ed)," 16 July 2019 As the Liechty field empties after a recent practice, Muhlfriedel’s work is just beginning. Bill Plaschke, latimes.com, "Los Angeles’ Latina club is trying to change the face of women’s soccer," 13 July 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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Statistics for empty

Last Updated

11 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for empty

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

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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.

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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

Comments on empty

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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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