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

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 But right now, a drive through the nearly empty streets can bring new sights and double takes. Michael Wilson, New York Times, "Why Driving in New York City Now Feels ‘Post-Apocalyptic’," 17 May 2020 Texas A&M University's Transportation Institute has recommended parents take advantage of the lull and practice driving with their teens on the relatively empty streets. David Williams, CNN, "A teenager accidentally hit and killed her father while learning to park truck," 14 May 2020 So for some cities and states, the solution has been to offer up empty hotel rooms, in order to allow people to social distance. Kaitlin Lange, Indianapolis Star, "Indianapolis plans to move at-risk homeless to hotel to avoid coronavirus outbreaks," 14 May 2020 Roy Arellano, co-owner of Rooster’s Mexican Restaurant and Cantina in Vega, stood in mid-April in an empty dining room. Andrea Ball, USA TODAY, "‘It became real and it became alive’: Coronavirus jolts rural, isolated county with death," 12 May 2020 On the upside, shuttered offices and empty streets have given residents a break from weekday crowds and rush-hour traffic jams. cleveland, "High rent, but now a ghost town: Downtown Cleveland residents weather coronavirus pandemic (photos)," 6 May 2020 Serac’s world was chilly in its futurism, all glassy skyscrapers and clean, empty streets, but after Dolores turned off his machines and revealed the extent of his domination to the public, those streets erupted into war. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Westworld Season 3 Had a Villain Problem," 5 May 2020 Hilton’s partnership with American Express has repurposed empty hotel rooms into safety housing for medical professionals across the country. Cailey Rizzo, Travel + Leisure, "Hilton and American Express Donate $1 Million to World Central Kitchen to Feed Medical Staff Staying at Hotels," 5 May 2020 There also will be outdoor scenes of empty Los Angeles streets that were shot by a cinematographer working alone from a vehicle. Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, "Simone Missick of CBS's 'All Rise' talks about virtual episode, COVID-19 impact on family," 1 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The company struck deals with resort hotels emptied by the overnight disappearance of tourism, and offered employees the option to move in. Tom Simonite, Wired, "The Pandemic Brings Some African Tech Workers Luxe Lodging," 19 May 2020 The virus crisis has all but wiped out the city’s tourism sector, emptying hotels and depleting retail sales in the process. Joshua Fechter, ExpressNews.com, "COVID-19 blasts $200 million hole in San Antonio city budget as officials weigh $290 million in federal stimulus dollars," 7 May 2020 Campuses emptied and classes moved online, but by April, universities absorbing massive revenue losses and anticipating further losses in the upcoming year began furloughing staff. Sarah Midkiff, refinery29.com, "How Teachers & Faculty Will Benefit From The $12.5 Billion Education Relief Fund," 7 May 2020 Since then, tensions have been high in Kashmir Valley, where many businesses were shuttered, streets emptied and, doctors said, residents’ hopelessness morphed into a severe psychological crisis. Sameer Yasir, New York Times, "Kashmir Gun Battle Kills at Least 7," 3 May 2020 The coronavirus pandemic left millions ordered to stay home, emptied highways and spurred record unemployment filings. Nathan Fenno, Los Angeles Times, "L.A. hunkered down. But it hasn’t stopped building mansions, stadiums and apartments," 24 Apr. 2020 The new guy spends his days stirring coal, emptying chamberpots, and being harassed by a seagull. Peter Opaskar, Ars Technica, "Mermaids, mayhem, and masturbation: The Lighthouse is now on Amazon Prime," 16 Apr. 2020 However, Sauer warns against emptying shelves and avoiding hoarding behaviors because there are families who don’t have the financial flexibility of stocking up for two weeks. USA Today, "Is it safe to go grocery shopping? Helpful tips during the coronavirus pandemic," 3 Apr. 2020 Office buildings were emptying and traffic was thinning, but now the imperative was growing for an even more complete shutdown of life in a city of 8.4 million people waiting to know what exactly that meant. Stephanie Mccrummen, Washington Post, "Shutting down the city that never sleeps," 21 Mar. 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

21 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Empty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empty. Accessed 31 May. 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.

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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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

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