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

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


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

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 The possibility that PBHs are real and widespread throughout the universe cannot yet be dismissed, however—especially as searches for other dark matter candidates come up empty. Nola Taylor Redd, Scientific American, "Did Astronomers Just Discover Black Holes from the Big Bang?," 13 Jan. 2020 In that same stretch, Jackson played once, lording over the Ravens' second straight one-and-done postseason with an empty-calorie night (365 yards passing, 143 yards rushing) in a game that was never really in doubt. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Derrick Henry, not Lamar Jackson, looks like MVP, and it might be time to rethink process," 12 Jan. 2020 The former Pass & Provisions space near downtown, which closed in May 2019, won’t be empty much longer. Greg Morago, Houston Chronicle, "New restaurant to go into Pass & Provisions space," 10 Jan. 2020 Seated not far away was M.B.Z., in his white tunic and ear-protection muffs, alongside his wife and an empty third chair reserved for Clarke. New York Times, "Mohammed bin Zayed’s Dark Vision of the Middle East’s Future," 9 Jan. 2020 Those running for office plaster advertisements — think law firm billboards but without the smiles — on every empty inch of street poles and walls. Brett Murphy, USA Today, "Reporting on a deadly airstrike in Afghanistan," 9 Jan. 2020 The petite, lithe and translucent crustaceans aren’t easy to snag, and misjudging the coordinates of a catch can leave a cuttlefish empty-tentacled. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Scientists Velcroed 3-D Glasses to Cuttlefish to Study Their Depth Perception," 8 Jan. 2020 When Doolittle sank yet another contested three to give Oklahoma a 64-55 lead with 5:04 remaining most of a half-empty Erwin Center trudged out into the Austin night. Nick Moyle, ExpressNews.com, "Texas squanders lead against Oklahoma, falls into 0-2 hole in Big 12," 8 Jan. 2020 That’s how many Christmases my family has spent with an empty chair at our dinner table. Khary Penebaker, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "After 40 years, the pain of the empty chair at Christmas still haunts a Milwaukee family torn by gun violence," 19 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The chemical was leaking from the basement of the local business, down into the ground and went into a drain that emptied out onto eastbound I-696, police tweeted. Amir Vera, CNN, "A cancerous green slime was found oozing onto a Detroit highway, officials say," 21 Dec. 2019 Under the new rule, boats which aren’t required to use TEDs will have to empty the nets onto the deck. Washington Post, "Plan to save sea turtles from shrimp boats scaled way back," 19 Dec. 2019 The basket could never hold enough, kept overflowing no matter how many times Fly emptied it. Tiphanie Yanique, The New Yorker, "God’s Caravan," 28 Oct. 2019 With this year’s unusually heavy rains, the tanks have been filled, emptied onto the orchard, and filled again. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Tanks, swales put rainwater to eco-friendly use," 11 July 2019 Family members were considering renovating the attic, which prompted them to empty it. Chris O'brien, latimes.com, "A dusty old painting turned up in an attic in France. It may sell for $100 million," 25 June 2019 Those without jobs in the oil patch are especially hard-hit, and industries outside the oil field face severe staffing shortages: Dumpsters overflow without garbage truck drivers to empty them. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "Big Problems and Big Paychecks in West Texas Oil Country," 5 June 2019 Eat right out of the packet or empty the packets onto the plates. The Washington Post, NOLA.com, "Tasty chicken dinner comes with a bonus: No cleanup," 19 Mar. 2018 The characters have been mostly emptied of individual qualities, the better to be filled with fervor. Lidija Haas, The New Republic, "The Heavy-Handed Moralism of Terrence Malick’s New Film," 13 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Here are some of our favorite things about this powerful machine: It self-empties. Kate Tully Ellsworth, USA TODAY, "Our favorite robot vacuum is at an insanely low price for Cyber Monday," 1 Dec. 2019 At my work, the cleaning service empties everything in the fridge at close of business on Friday. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, "Ask Amy: Friend’s elusive girlfriend often a no-show at life events," 24 Oct. 2019 Next week, others will follow, scattered at centers across the state, as the city's detention center empties before the new year. Darcy Costello, The Courier-Journal, "As deadline looms on youth detention plan, tweaks include more beds and family engagement," 18 Dec. 2019 My family's laughter drifts down the hallway, and my stomach feels empty, because their togetherness feeds my isolation. Tonilyn Hornung, Good Housekeeping, "I Stopped Cooking All My Family's Holiday Meals, Because It Left Me Feeling Like an Old Stereotype," 16 Dec. 2019 The mighty Mississippi rises gently here at its headwaters in northern Minnesota, before meandering past Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, and empties into the Gulf of Mexico. CBS News, "A trip down the mighty Mississippi," 7 July 2019 Then again, their try-hard meter is on empty and Young would help their pass rush. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions draft watch: Up to No. 6 pick now as Chase Young dream lives on," 2 Dec. 2019 Lake Washington is essentially a wide spot in the state’s longest river, the 310-mile St. Johns, which forms near Vero Beach, flows north near Orlando and through Jacksonville and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Kevin Spear, orlandosentinel.com, "Melbourne water supply found to contain potentially toxic algae," 19 July 2019 Police found two bottles of vodka — Tito's and Absolut — both about two-thirds empty behind the driver's seat along with a small cup that smelled of alcohol. Freep.com, "Violent traffic stop cited in ex-MSP official's lawsuit. We have the video.," 3 Oct. 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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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

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Empty.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empty. Accessed 20 January 2020.

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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.

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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).


not to be intimidated or subdued

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