emp·ty | \ˈem(p)-tē \
emptier; emptiest

Definition of empty 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : containing nothing empty shelves

b : not occupied or inhabited an empty building

c : unfrequented

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 \ adverb
emptiness \ˈem(p)-tē-nəs \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for empty

Synonyms: Adjective

inane, meaningless, pointless, senseless

Synonyms: Verb

clear, evacuate, vacate, void

Antonyms: Adjective

meaningful, significant

Antonyms: Verb

fill, load

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Fans started to notice that the singer's Instagram photos were slowly decreasing on Thursday (July 12), and by Friday morning (July 13), her entire page was completely empty. Alessandra Rincón, Billboard, "Miley Cyrus' Instagram Page Has Been Wiped Clean," 13 July 2018 Loon is testing in Winnemucca because the skies are mostly empty and there’s an airport for when the higher-ups want to come in by private plane straight from Palo Alto, just a short flight away. Alex Davies, WIRED, "Inside X, the Moonshot Factory Racing to Build the Next Google," 11 July 2018 Perhaps the couple can use the Prime Day deals to furnish their new shared NYC home, which both have lamented is still depressingly empty. Kathryn Lindsay, refinery29.com, "Ariana Grande Is Doing A Surprise Performance To Celebrate Your Favorite Unofficial Holiday," 10 July 2018 After leveling an empty elementary school building, Bridge Development Partners intends to build the 173,129-square-foot Bridge Point FLL Logistics Center. David Lyons, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Industrial park developer buys 10.2 acres near airport from Broward school district," 22 June 2018 The next morning, another volunteer took her and her son to Casa Belen, a provisional shelter run by Kino in an empty municipal building. Rafael Carranza, azcentral, "What happens when migrants seeking asylum get to the border?," 22 June 2018 The properties include two vacant lots and an empty building, which the city acquired through property tax foreclosure. Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Affordable apartment building on Milwaukee's north side gets price cut for city-owned site," 12 June 2018 But the police relocated in 2003, and plans to convert the empty building into a cultural center fell through. Jill Langlois, latimes.com, "They squatted in a government building in Brazil for years. Then they lost everything," 4 June 2018 Politicians love the money that comes in from military bases and do not want to see empty buildings and bases in their districts. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Why the Pentagon Doesn't Know How Much Anything Costs," 4 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The new research holds that, instead, the floodwater exited through the Mackenzie River, which stretches across today’s Northwest Territories, emptying straight into the Arctic Ocean. Christopher Mooney, BostonGlobe.com, "Scientists may have solved a huge riddle that led to more than 1,000 years of cold on Earth. It doesn’t bode well," 12 July 2018 The bike aisle emptied first, then Thomas the Tank Engine, then Lego and Fisher-Price. Michael Corkery, New York Times, "At Toys ‘R’ Us, ‘There Is Nothing Left’: The Day It Closed for Good," 30 June 2018 More often than not, the runs have scored on bases-emptying blasts. Maria Torres, kansascity, "Home runs bite Jakob Junis again as Royals lose to Brewers," 26 June 2018 So emptying a bagless vacuum cleaner is, in theory, a slightly messy task. Dan Frommer, Recode, "Afternoon tea with Sir James Dyson," 16 June 2018 Hughes crossed the caution tape and emptied the suspicious package onto the street. Lainey Seyler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The Milwaukee cyclist who emptied a suspicious package into the street has been charged," 4 June 2018 While homeowners can do their part emptying containers of standing water, cities like Naperville also are actively treating spots where mosquitoes breed. Suzanne Baker, Naperville Sun, "It's time to start thinking about mosquito deterrents," 29 May 2018 The Vikings also outscored the Huskies, 4-2, in the final quarter as Bellamy emptied his bench. Randy Mcroberts, The Aegis, "Patterson Mill wins girls, boys region lacrosse championships," 17 May 2018 If Draper empties his bank account to promote it, however, things could get more serious, and a vast array of interests threatened by the dismantling of the state could counterpunch heavily. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Californians Will Be Voting on a Wild Array of Ballot Initiatives in November," 29 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

At midnight, the lamp is brimming with illumination and empties, ready for another day. Arlene Hirst, New York Times, "What’s Hot (and Cool) in Home Lighting," 8 May 2018 Typically, the host nation empties noticeably between the two. Brian Straus, SI.com, "Panama's Lopsided Loss Won't Damper Party of Celebrating First World Cup," 18 June 2018 In response, fans of recreational abalone diving are paying professional divers to literally vacuum up the spiny creatures — which have little commercial value — from the sea floor with a fiberglass pipe that empties into a big net. Tara Duggan, San Francisco Chronicle, "Northern California divers try to save abalone population — with a giant sea urchin vacuum," 5 Apr. 2018 One of the Eagle River teens, Tatum J. Bertholl, reported being stranded on a sandbar near where Eska Creek empties into the Matanuska, according to an online troopers dispatch posted Tuesday. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "Troopers helicopter crew rescues teens from Matanuska River sandbar," 12 June 2018 But the stench that Sánchez referred to comes from a sewage pipe that empties near the Muelle Real. Mario J. Pentón, miamiherald, "Pollution is destroying the environment and livelihood for residents in this Cuban city," 7 June 2018 Plaine Products Send your empties back with Plaine Products. Mandy Ferreira, Good Housekeeping, "The Best Places To Shop Online If You Want To Save Money And Live A Zero Waste Lifestyle," 24 Aug. 2017 The chemical was released into a storm drain that empties into Yellow Fork Creek. Sarah Riley, The Courier-Journal, "Chemical from portable toilets kills fish in Yellow Fork Creek," 22 May 2018 Also, a good, fiber-rich diet empties and cleans out the ass naturally. Dan Savage, Chicago Reader, "‘I keep having sex dreams about Kanye West’," 16 May 2018

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

9 Oct 2018

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 \
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

What made you want to look up empty? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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