[em-pahyuhr; for 8–10 also om-peer]



Origin of empire

1250–1300; Middle English < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin imperium; see empery
Related formsin·ter·em·pire, adjectivepre-Em·pire, adjectivepro·em·pire, adjective
Can be confusedempire umpire

Synonyms for empire

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for empire

Contemporary Examples of empire

Historical Examples of empire

  • I have sought thy daughter in marriage for Xerxes, prince of the empire.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • What, then, must be the population of the British empire if the increase in one city was at that rate?

  • Still, the empire seems to take its course westward just the same.

  • He excludes "the insolence of office," and "the cutpurse of the empire and the rule."

  • And again she laughed, she who was so certain of her empire over this man's heart and body.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

British Dictionary definitions for empire



an aggregate of peoples and territories, often of great extent, under the rule of a single person, oligarchy, or sovereign state
any monarchy that for reasons of history, prestige, etc, has an emperor rather than a king as head of state
the period during which a particular empire exists
supreme power; sovereignty
a large industrial organization with many ramifications, esp a multinational corporation
Related formsRelated adjective: imperial

Word Origin for empire

C13: from Old French, from Latin imperium rule, from imperāre to command, from parāre to prepare


noun the Empire

French history
  1. the period of imperial rule in France from 1804 to 1815 under Napoleon Bonaparte
  2. Also called: Second Empirethe period from 1852 to 1870 when Napoleon III ruled as emperor


denoting, characteristic of, or relating to the British Empire
denoting, characteristic of, or relating to either French Empire, esp the first: in particular, denoting the neoclassical style of architecture and furniture and the high-waisted style of women's dresses characteristic of the period
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

Word Origin and History for empire

early 14c., from Old French empire "rule, authority, kingdom, imperial rule," from Latin imperium "rule, command," from imperare "to command," from im- "in" (see in- (2)) + parare "to order, prepare" (see pare).

Not etymologically restricted to "territory ruled by an emperor," but used that way. The Empire, meaning "the British Empire," first recorded 1772 (it officially devolved into "The Commonwealth" in 1931); before that it meant the Holy Roman Empire (1670s). Empire style (especially in reference to a style of dresses with high waistlines) is 1869, from the Second Empire "rule of Napoleon III of France" (1852-70). New York has been called the Empire State since 1834.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper