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

Keep scrolling for more

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

bare, blank, clean, devoid, stark, toom [chiefly Scottish], vacant, vacuous, void

Synonyms: Verb

clear, evacuate, vacate, void

Antonyms: Adjective


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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The Palace of Auburn Hills, meanwhile, sits idle and almost empty, too. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "As The Joe and Palace fall, I'm reminded of the greatness that stood inside," 14 July 2019 As day broke, streets in the normally raucous French Quarter tourist district were largely empty and barely damp. Washington Post, "Barry strengthens to hurricane; storm surge feared," 13 July 2019 As day broke, the streets in the normally raucous French Quarter tourist district were largely empty and barely damp. Fox News, "Barry makes landfall in Louisiana after weakening back to tropical storm," 13 July 2019 Those hopes were dashed when the tombs turned out to be completely empty, creating yet another mystery about where the dead princesses were. NBC News, "Vatican mystery deepens over 15-year-old girl missing since 1983; bones found," 13 July 2019 Most of the mall’s units are apparently now empty, with only a handful of shops remaining. Jon Porter, The Verge, "There’s much more to Stranger Things’ Starcourt Mall than meets the eye," 12 July 2019 As day broke, the streets in the normally raucous French Quarter tourist district were largely empty but barely damp. Janet Mcconnaughey, chicagotribune.com, "Millions in line of punishing rain from Tropical Storm Barry: ‘Stock up on water. Stock up food. Get ready for the storm — ride it out’," 12 July 2019 Even though the campus seems quiet and somewhat empty, the canteen is bustling. The Economist, "China’s Silicon Valley is transforming China, but not yet the world," 11 July 2019 Every time the cross came, the backside stretched empty, without a purple kit in sight. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando City defeats NYCFC in penalty kicks, advances to U.S. Open Cup semifinals," 10 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Armed men emptied villages, burned down houses, hacked bits off their occupants and ripped the fetus out of at least one woman. The Economist, "Killings in Congo’s north-east spark fears of a return to war," 13 July 2019 For her, the filter is simple: a willingness to empty the office dishwasher. Quartz Staff, Quartz, "Employers should filter prospective hires for one thing they won’t find on a resume," 10 July 2019 Postwar suburbanization emptied out downtown, and redevelopment efforts since then have produced new housing and attracted startup tech companies. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Downtown: Hotbed of past glories and future tech," 30 June 2019 Expect the Splash Brothers to empty the clip on Thursday, attempting to spur a livelier crowd than what was on hand for the Game 4 snooze fest. Michael Shapiro, SI.com, "Can the Splash Brothers Pull Off One More Oracle Classic?," 13 June 2019 Hot springs, bubbling pools, mud pots, fumaroles and lakeshore geysers empty into the lake’s chilly waters. Niloufer Venkatraman, National Geographic, "6 can’t-miss stops in Yellowstone National Park," 13 June 2019 Experts agree that these alternate licenses are not a solution, but a Band-Aid for school districts that are overwhelmed by the number of vacant or emptying teaching positions. NBC News, "Mississippi loses hundreds of teachers due to licensing issue, underscoring national problem," 25 June 2019 In layman’s terms, the lake’s in bad shape because of its eroding shoreline, carp tearing at its bottom, and added sentiment from Battle Creek, which empties into it. Tad Vezner, Twin Cities, "$12M environmental project will build islands in St. Paul’s Pig’s Eye Lake," 18 June 2019 Then, as the ride progresses, bikers will conquer a burly-and-rocky incline before descending a smooth-and-flowy downhill that empties into the Bluebird Meadow Trail. Heather Balogh Rochfort, The Know, "Mountain biking trails that’ll get you home in time for dinner," 13 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Oak Creek empties into the Verde River, a key source of water forthe Phoenix area. Ian James, azcentral, "He took down dams, freed wolves and preserved wildlands. Bruce Babbitt is still at work," 14 July 2019 Growth proceeded sporadically in a boom-and-bust cycle as rumors of a transcontinental railroad terminating in San Diego brought waves of real estate speculators, who left empty handed when promises or riches evaporated. Roger Showley, San Diego Union-Tribune, "250 years of San Diego," 30 June 2019 Just off the coast of Louisiana and Texas where the Mississippi River empties, the ocean is dying. Sarah Gibbens, National Geographic, "Massive 8,000-mile 'dead zone' could be one of the gulf's largest," 10 June 2019 Extra cars will be added to the C and E light rail lines starting at 5 p.m. and continuing until the stadium empties after the concert. Carina Julig, The Know, "“Where it all started”: Garth Brooks to perform before record-breaking crowd at Broncos Stadium," 7 June 2019 Schedule a free pick-up for your Loop Tote filled with empties. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Loop Store Will Refill Your Haagen-Dasz and Other Groceries, Cutting Down on Waste," 25 Mar. 2019 After her performance came to an end, no one left empty handed. Kendall Lindsay, Vogue, "Billie Eilish Performs at the Launch Party for Garage Magazine's Latest Issue," 6 Feb. 2019 When storing empties, nest smaller ones inside big ones. Good Housekeeping, "Rethink Your Food Storage," 10 Jan. 2011 Instead, the company has an app for drivers called Schneider Compass that directs him to the empties. Erica E. Phillips, WSJ, "Trucks Shift Into Higher Gear With New Technology," 25 July 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about empty

Statistics for empty

Last Updated

17 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for empty

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


something desired as essential

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!