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 Democrats gave Pelosi a standing ovation as the final tally was annnounced, while the Republican side of the chamber was nearly empty. Alan Fram, BostonGlobe.com, "Pelosi narrowly reelected speaker, faces difficult 2021," 3 Jan. 2021 That’s my bed, and it’s been empty for five months. New York Times, "Coming Home," 1 Jan. 2021 On a Santa Barbara bluff where visitors and locals typically jockey for the best views of beach fireworks, the area was instead largely empty, dotted with dog walkers and passersby. Washington Post, "Out with the old, in with the few: How the pandemic changed New Year’s Eve," 31 Dec. 2020 At Poydras Home in Uptown New Orleans, a room where residents used to gather for exercise and movies has been empty for nine months. Emily Woodruff, NOLA.com, "Coronavirus vaccines come to this New Orleans nursing home: ‘I can’t imagine not getting it’," 30 Dec. 2020 Trailheads and campgrounds were empty this spring, after virtually all outdoor recreation areas closed to the public as COVID-19 spread across the Pacific Northwest. oregonlive, "Rise of the rookie hikers: The pandemic pushed a new wave of people outside, for better or worse," 29 Dec. 2020 But Epstein is gone, the wheelbarrow is empty, and new President Jed Hoyer finally has initiated the Undoing, trading Darvish to the San Diego Padres in an old-fashioned salary dump. Paul Sullivan, chicagotribune.com, "Column: The Yu Darvish trade is a cost-saving move — and it starts the undoing of the Chicago Cubs. So much for those ‘wheelbarrows of cash.’," 29 Dec. 2020 But the space wasn’t empty for long; it was revamped by its owners, redesigned into a new concept called 17 River Grille, which reopened for business in August. Anne Nickoloff, cleveland, "50 Greater Cleveland restaurants that closed in 2020," 29 Dec. 2020 But since March, the calendar has been mostly empty. Ben Eisen, WSJ, "Covid-19 Upended Americans’ Finances, Just Not in the Ways We Expected," 28 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb When you're finished, simply empty out the pull-out bucket. Nicole Briese, USA TODAY, "The 5 best Amazon deals you can get this Thursday," 1 Jan. 2021 As the sun rose over Buenos Aires, and streets started to empty out, some activists continued dancing, in no rush to end the celebration. New York Times, "Argentina Legalizes Abortion, a Milestone in a Conservative Region," 30 Dec. 2020 In October, the National Academies of Science, Medicine, and Engineering released a report urging states to empty their prisons of anyone who was medically vulnerable, nearing the end of their sentence or of low risk to public safety. Arkansas Online, "1 in 5 prisoners in the U.S. has had covid-19, 1,700 have died," 18 Dec. 2020 In October, the National Academies of Science, Medicine, and Engineering released a report urging states to empty their prisons of anyone who was medically vulnerable, nearing the end of their sentence or of low risk to public safety. The Associated Press, NOLA.com, "1 in 5 prisoners in U.S. has had coronavirus, an infection rate 4x higher than general population," 18 Dec. 2020 In October, the National Academies of Science, Medicine, and Engineering released a report urging states to empty their prisons of anyone who was medically vulnerable, nearing the end of their sentence or of low risk to public safety. CBS News, "One in five inmates in the U.S. has had COVID-19 and over 1,700 have died," 18 Dec. 2020 The barge makes daily trips to empty the ship’s 5,000-gallon sewage tank, Mourgos said. Nora Mishanec, SFChronicle.com, "Antarctic Program’s flagship icebreaker makes rare appearance in San Francisco at Pier 17," 22 Sep. 2020 Please mother of God, allow someone to make a dishwasher that will get my dishes for a family of 5 clean enough, fast enough to empty the dishwasher by bedtime! James Freeman, WSJ, "A President for Consumers," 17 Dec. 2020 The 2021 Toyota Mirai starts at $50,455, while the 2020 Mirai will empty your bank account to the tune of $59,545. Roberto Baldwin, Car and Driver, "2021 Toyota Mirai Costs $9000 Less Than 2020 Model," 16 Dec. 2020 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

10 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Empty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empty. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for empty


How to pronounce empty (audio)

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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