empty

1 of 3

adjective

emp·​ty ˈem(p)-tē How to pronounce empty (audio)
emptier; emptiest
1
a
: containing nothing
empty shelves
b
: not occupied or inhabited
an empty building
d
: not pregnant
empty heifer
e
: null sense 4a
the empty set
2
a
: 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
4
a
: idle
empty hours
b
: having no purpose or result : useless
5
: marked by the absence of human life, activity, or comfort
an empty silence
emptily adverb
emptiness noun

empty

2 of 3

verb

emptied; emptying

transitive verb

1
a
: 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

empty

3 of 3

noun

plural empties
: something (such as a bottle or can) that is empty
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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
At moments, Ferri retreats and stands watching from one of the large empty square structures rotating slowly on the stage, or wanders blankly past the other characters, like a woman out of time. Jennifer Homans, The New Yorker, 15 July 2024 An hour after the shooting the vast field was declared a crime scene, littered with empty plastic water bottles and soggy cardboard containers that once held cheese fries. Julie Carr Smyth, Chicago Tribune, 14 July 2024
Verb
That moment emptied the benches and bullpens, though the confrontation mostly involved yelling and shoving. Gary Phillips, New York Daily News, 13 July 2024 Over the course of the day, the school emptied out of White students. Emily Langer, Washington Post, 13 July 2024
Noun
Twelve years ago, a University of Maryland study found that refunds on empties curtailed litter in the 10 states with bottle-deposit laws by 30% to 64%. Dan Rodricks, Baltimore Sun, 28 June 2024 The General Assembly this spring passed a bill that makes fraudulent return of empties a violation of the state’s Unfair Trade Practices Act, but doesn’t spell out penalties or the enforcement mechanism. Don Stacom, Hartford Courant, 25 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for empty 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'empty.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

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

First Known Use

Adjective

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

Verb

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

Noun

1844, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near empty

Cite this Entry

“Empty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empty. Accessed 22 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

empty

1 of 3 adjective
emp·​ty ˈem(p)-tē How to pronounce empty (audio)
emptier; emptiest
1
: containing nothing
an empty box
2
: not being lived in
an empty house
3
: having no reality or importance
empty dreams
4
: lacking in value, sense, effect, or sincerity
empty threats
5
: hungry sense 1
feel empty before dinner
6
: having no members
empty set
emptily adverb
emptiness noun

empty

2 of 3 verb
emptied; emptying
1
: to make empty : remove the contents of
empty a barrel
2
: to remove all of from a container
empty flour from a bag
3
: to become empty
the theater emptied quickly
4
: to give forth contents (as fluid) : discharge
the river empties into the ocean

empty

3 of 3 noun
plural empties
: an empty container

More from Merriam-Webster on empty

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