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

Indians overthrew their imperial overlords by Gandhian political resistance; Australians did so on the cricket field. Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, "A Crisis Over Cricket Rocks Australia," 27 Mar. 2018 To be sure, the construction of the imperial presidency has been a bipartisan enterprise, and Barack Obama contributed his own innovations. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "A Progressive President Could Accomplish a Lot By Following Trump’s Example," 3 June 2018 That coincides with Rome’s consolidation of its imperial rule in the provinces, ushering in the period of political stability and economic prosperity known as the Pax Romana. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Greenland ice cores track Roman lead pollution in year-by-year detail," 15 May 2018 The offensive attacked major population centers in South Vietnam, with North Vietnamese forces assaulting the U.S. embassy in Saigon and forcing a fierce multiweek battle for the old imperial capital city of Hue. Rye Druzin, San Antonio Express-News, "Vietnam remembered," 17 Feb. 2018 A century after the brutal murders of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, his wife Alexandra, and their five children (Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei), the execution of the Russian imperial family continues to capture the popular imagination. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Inside the Romanov Family's Final Days," 1 July 2018 This Russian imperial stout serves as the base of a corresponding whiskey called the Czar, but the beer leads its own charge in lower ABV form., "The beers and whiskeys of Seven Stills," 1 July 2018 Another was Empress Alexandra’s sister, the Marchioness of Milford Haven, who had the pragmatic idea that even if the imperial couple and their son were doomed, the princesses might settle quietly on the Isle of Wight. The Economist, "How the royal houses of Europe abandoned the Romanovs," 28 June 2018 Rebels may yet expand their territory a little, but the dream of many Russian imperial nostalgists that great swaths of Russian-speaking Ukraine would flock to join Moscow has faded. Newsweek, "Russia's Ukrainian Retreat," 8 June 2015

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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Statistics for imperial

Last Updated

8 Sep 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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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).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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