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

South Korea booted the ball forward, and Son tracked it down with no German defenders back, and rolled it into the empty net. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, "Germany Crashes Out of World Cup With a Loss to South Korea," 28 June 2018 Son tapped the ball into an empty net after a long pass from Ju Se-jong. Samuel Petrequin, chicagotribune.com, "Defending champions Germany eliminated from World Cup after losing Korea," 27 June 2018 Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with no outs in the second, but Jonah Girand, Liput, and Nelson Maldonado all came up empty. Mike Malloy, OrlandoSentinel.com, "UF earns 6-1 win over Texas, stays alive in CWS," 20 June 2018 Nashville nearly had a chance at an empty net when Dobrowolski was caught too far out chasing a shot. Danielle Lerner, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville City FC beats Nashville, advances to US Open Cup quarterfinal," 20 June 2018 Right-hander Matt Bush threw wide, really wide, on a tapper to the right of the mound, and the winning run scored as catcher Carlos Perez's swipes at the runner coming from third and then at the plate came up empty. Jeff Wilson, star-telegram, "Rangers Reaction: Things get weird for Rangers at home plate," 14 June 2018 Now, the retailer is making it even harder to leave empty handed. Glamour, "The Best Discounts From Target's 14 Days of Deals Beauty Sale," 12 Mar. 2019 Smaller studies tend to come up empty or identify a handful of genetic regions that seem to play a role, while larger studies can kick up huge numbers of variants. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Large genetic study finds first genes connected with ADHD," 27 Nov. 2018 From empty souls who just wake up and look to debate. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "Drake Confirms He Has a Son, and Everything Is Going to Be Okay," 29 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Arriaga’s son, Adrian, ran with the crowd as the school emptied out. Susan Carroll, David Hunn And Emily Foxhall, San Antonio Express-News, "Terrifying minutes in Santa Fe class room changed lives forever," 20 May 2018 Northwestern's leading scorer Ishmael Lane (20 points, 11 rebounds) fouled out with seven minutes remaining as the Privateers, who had 12 players score at least a point, emptied its bench in the victory. Joseph Halm, NOLA.com, "First-place UNO cruises against winless Northwestern," 1 Feb. 2018 The juvenile's backpack belongings were emptied onto an office table. John Benson, cleveland.com, "Underage drunk driver flips Jeep in Rite Aid parking lot: Broadview Heights Police Blotter," 26 Apr. 2018 Before the train cars were emptied, about 10 million pounds of human waste were on the train that came from waste management facilities in New York. NBC News, "'Poop train' carrying human waste cleared after months squatting in Alabama town," 19 Apr. 2018 Many of the buildings had emptied out by the 1950s, and home-decorating showrooms started moving in. John King, SFChronicle.com, "Well-crafted Jackson Square condos rich in design inspiration," 2 July 2018 An Alabama mayor says the last train car full of New York City sewage sludge that has stunk up her town has finally been emptied and removed. CBS News, "New York City "poop train" finally leaves after stinking up Alabama town, mayor says," 19 Apr. 2018 That means using brown rice instead of buying farro for one recipe, or emptying out your crisper drawer for use-it-up frittata. Alyse Whitney, Bon Appetit, "17 Ways to Save Money on Groceries," 7 Feb. 2018 Start off with a salad dressed in vinaigrette; vinegar has been shown to help delay stomach-emptying, and olive oil is a good fat. Liz Krieger, Harper's BAZAAR, "How To Prevent and Survive a Hangover," 23 Nov. 2016

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 The idea of leaving floor space empty is a dramatic turnabout for an industry that historically raced to open more stores and expand its shelf space. Suzanne Kapner, WSJ, "Macy’s Radical Plan to Save Itself: Shrink," 12 Nov. 2018 At midnight, the lamp is brimming with illumination and empties, ready for another day. Arlene Hirst, New York Times, "What’s Hot (and Cool) in Home Lighting," 8 May 2018 Typically, the host nation empties noticeably between the two. Brian Straus, SI.com, "Panama's Lopsided Loss Won't Damper Party of Celebrating First World Cup," 18 June 2018 In response, fans of recreational abalone diving are paying professional divers to literally vacuum up the spiny creatures — which have little commercial value — from the sea floor with a fiberglass pipe that empties into a big net. Tara Duggan, San Francisco Chronicle, "Northern California divers try to save abalone population — with a giant sea urchin vacuum," 5 Apr. 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

8 May 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).


a sum of money that is sent as a payment

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Dictionary Devil

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!