im·​pe·​ri·​al | \im-ˈpir-ē-əl \

Definition of imperial 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of, relating to, befitting, or suggestive of an empire or an emperor

b(1) : of or relating to the United Kingdom as distinguished from the constituent parts

(2) : of or relating to the Commonwealth of Nations and British Empire

3 : of superior or unusual size or excellence

4 : belonging to the official British series of weights and measures — see Weights and Measures Table



Definition of imperial (Entry 2 of 2)

1 capitalized : an adherent or soldier of the Holy Roman emperor

2 : emperor

3 : a pointed beard growing below the lower lip

4 : something of unusual size or excellence

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Other Words from imperial


imperially \im-​ˈpir-​ē-​ə-​lē \ adverb

Examples of imperial in a Sentence


a member of the imperial family envisioned an imperial city that would rival the capitals of Europe for beauty and magnificence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

In this debut novel by Tasha Suri, a young woman named Mehr is the daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi woman, inheriting her face and magical abilities. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "11 new sci-fi and fantasy books to check out in late November," 15 Nov. 2018 Last year Shelley Rubin, a philanthropist and co-founder of the Rubin Museum in New York, accused an Indian-American couple of selling her $18 million worth of fake imperial-era Indian jewelry. Norman Vanamee, Town & Country, "How to Spot Fake Jewelry, According to the Experts," 17 Sep. 2018 The bar’s 2016 and 2017 vintages of Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout and Half Acre’s Big Hugs imperial coffee stout will be tapped Saturday as a last Illinois Craft Beer Week hurrah. Josh Noel,, "After 39 years, Quenchers Saloon readies to close its doors," 17 May 2018 But in order for them to wed, the princess had to give up her status as a member of the imperial family. Megan Friedman, Harper's BAZAAR, "A Japanese Princess Just Married a Commoner, and Gave Up Her Royal Status to Do So," 29 Oct. 2018 Renovations in 2013 updated and repaired problem areas, but left the house’s original California redwood paneling, imperial plaster walls, and oak parquet floors. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Castle-like postmodern curiosity asks $765K," 23 Oct. 2018 The tour takes in the markets and mosques of Old Delhi, the imperial city of New Delhi, the Taj Mahal and Jaipur's pink palaces. Rosemary Mcclure,, "10-day budget tour of India, including airfare from L.A., for $1,500," 4 July 2018 At first, during the spring of 1917, the ex-imperial family was allowed to live in relative comfort at a favorite residence, the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoe Selo, not far from Petrograd. Simon Sebag Montefiore, Town & Country, "The Devastating True Story of the Romanov Family's Execution," 5 Oct. 2016 But in the developing world, it’s also been allied with left-wing communist movements and anti-imperial, anti-colonial movements. Nikita Lalwani, Washington Post, "When is nationalism a good thing? When it unites an ethnically diverse citizenry," 26 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The seasoning is a must for steamed crabs and perfect for crab cakes, crab imperials, and the like. Dan Rodricks,, "The care and handling of crab cakes," 12 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'imperial.' 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 imperial


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


circa 1524, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for imperial


Middle English imperial, emperiall, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French emperial, imperiall, borrowed from Latin imperiālis "of the Roman emperor," from imperium "supreme administrative authority, power exercised by a Roman emperor" + -ālis -al entry 1 — more at empire


derivative of imperial entry 1, probably after Middle French imperiaux (plural); (sense 3) translation of French impériale

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Last Updated

1 Dec 2018

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The first known use of imperial was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for imperial



English Language Learners Definition of imperial

: of or relating to an empire or an emperor


im·​pe·​ri·​al | \im-ˈpir-ē-əl \

Kids Definition of imperial

: of or relating to an empire or its ruler the imperial palace

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More from Merriam-Webster on imperial

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with imperial

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for imperial

Spanish Central: Translation of imperial

Nglish: Translation of imperial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of imperial for Arabic Speakers

Comments on imperial

What made you want to look up imperial? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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