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

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 Many residents’ propane tanks are empty and people have run out of firewood, McNeely said. J.k. Dineen, San Francisco Chronicle, 7 Jan. 2022 Heads were grabbed, spiked, sliced, tossed, grabbed, spiked, sliced, tossed, until the large bin was empty and a new batch of cod heads arrived. Rebecca Katzman, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Jan. 2022 In a statement, Spelman College said the Atlanta Police Department (APD) responded to a potential bomb threat in the Manley College Center, which was empty at the time. NBC News, 6 Jan. 2022 The House gallery is empty after it was evacuated as rioters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 5 Jan. 2022 The storefront has been empty since Panera left in 2019. Jc Reindl, Detroit Free Press, 3 Jan. 2022 The halls are empty again due to the extraordinary surge in Covid cases right now. Brian Stelter, CNN, 3 Jan. 2022 Tuesday was the soonest date possible, since the New Britain Stadium parking lot is empty then — but used all day Monday for COVID-19 no-appointment testing. Don Stacom, courant.com, 3 Jan. 2022 The mailbox was empty and appeared to have been pried open. cleveland, 31 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The pill is taken with another drug called misoprostol, which causes cramping and bleeding to empty the uterus. Anne Flaherty, ABC News, 16 Dec. 2021 And when the dustbin gets full, simply pull it out and empty it into the trash for easy clean-up. Amy Schulman, PEOPLE.com, 16 Oct. 2021 The camp sprung up last week as Haitian migrants began crossing the border illegally, growing to hold several thousand migrants before officials with U.S. and Customs and Border Protection surged resources to empty it. Andrew Restuccia, WSJ, 24 Sep. 2021 Patients will be instructed on how to empty and care for drains. Adam Hurly, Robb Report, 20 Dec. 2021 That helps empty the uterus through bleeding and muscle contractions. Jen Christensen, CNN, 16 Dec. 2021 Last year, my wonderful GI doctor, Dr. Rizk, sent me to Dr. Allemang who did a miracle procedure which opened up the bottom of my stomach so that food could easily empty via gravity. Hannah Drown, cleveland, 26 Nov. 2021 Volunteers empty the garbage and make rounds to ensure owners clean up after their dogs. New York Times, 17 Nov. 2021 Once the system is full, workers empty the plastic on the marine vessel. Li Cohen, CBS News, 16 Oct. 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 24 Feb. 2020 Arlington led by one goal with the Woburn net empty. Michael Mcmahon, BostonGlobe.com, 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, 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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near empty



empty calories

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Last Updated

10 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Empty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empty. Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on empty

Nglish: Translation of empty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of empty for Arabic Speakers


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