Word of the Day : February 26, 2012


adjective im-PEER-uh-kul


1 : originating in or based on observation or experience

2 : relying on experience or observation alone often without due regard for system and theory

3 : capable of being verified or disproved by observation or experiment

4 : of or relating to empiricism

Did You Know?

When "empirical" first appeared as an adjective in English, it meant simply "in the manner of an empiric." An empiric was a member of an ancient sect of doctors who practiced medicine based exclusively on experience, as contrasted with those who relied on theory or philosophy. The name "empiric" derives from Latin "empiricus," itself from Greek "empeirikos" ("experienced"). It ultimately traces back to the verb "peiran," meaning "to try, attempt, or experiment."


The students have collected plenty of empirical data from their experiments.

"Those empirical studies have found that teens are up to three times more likely than adults to falsely confess under police interrogation to crimes they never committed." -- From an editorial by Laura H. Nirider in the Chicago Tribune, December 23, 2011

Word Family Quiz

What relative of "empirical" refers to someone who commits robbery on the high seas? The answer is ...


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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