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[emp-tee-han-did] /ˈɛmp tiˈhæn dɪd/
having nothing in the hands, as in doing no work:
While we were carrying out the luggage, he stood by empty-handed.
having gained nothing:
to return from a quest empty-handed.
bringing no gift, donation, etc.:
They came to the birthday party empty-handed.
Origin of empty-handed
First recorded in 1605-15 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for empty-handed
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • My service to the Prince, but I wish he had not come here so empty-handed.

  • He went, however, only to return a few hours later, empty-handed.

  • But game was scarce and Jack was returning to Gardiner empty-handed and disgusted.

    Wild Animals at Home Ernest Thompson Seton
  • He was compelled to return to England as empty-handed as when he went out.

    True to His Home Hezekiah Butterworth
  • The farm was poor and was mortgaged, and empty-handed I turned away.

    The Jucklins Opie Read
  • “But I cannot have you return to England empty-handed,” he resumed.

    Athelstane Ford Allen Upward
  • To our mutual chagrin we met at the appointed rendezvous all of us empty-handed.

    The Hunters' Feast Mayne Reid
  • Why, man, do you suppose they would welcome us if we went to them empty-handed?

    The Rover's Secret Harry Collingwood
British Dictionary definitions for empty-handed


carrying nothing in the hands
having gained nothing: they returned from the negotiations empty-handed
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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