[ em-pir-i-kuhl ]
See synonyms for: empiricalempirically on Thesaurus.com

  1. derived from or guided by direct experience or by experiment, rather than abstract principles or theory: Empirical evidence of changes in kelp consumption was gathered by measuring the bite marks in seaweed fronds.

  2. depending upon experience or observation alone, without using scientific method or theory, and hence sometimes insufficiently authoritative, especially as in medicine: That is nothing but an empirical conclusion with no regard for the laws of thermodynamics.

  1. provable or verifiable by experience or experiment, as scientific laws: Theoretical physics is criticized for producing complex concepts that are mathematical, not empirical.

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Origin of empirical

First recorded in 1560–70; empiric + -al1

Other words for empirical

Opposites for empirical

Other words from empirical

  • em·pir·i·cal·ly, adverb
  • em·pir·i·cal·ness, noun
  • an·ti·em·pir·i·cal, adjective
  • non·em·pir·i·cal, adjective
  • o·ver·em·pir·i·cal, adjective
  • sem·i·em·pir·i·cal, adjective
  • un·em·pir·i·cal, adjective

Words Nearby empirical

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use empirical in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for empirical


/ (ɛmˈpɪrɪkəl) /

  1. derived from or relating to experiment and observation rather than theory

  2. (of medical treatment) based on practical experience rather than scientific proof

  1. philosophy

  2. of or relating to medical quackery

  1. statistics the posterior probability of an event derived on the basis of its observed frequency in a sample: Compare mathematical probability See also posterior probability

Derived forms of empirical

  • empirically, adverb
  • empiricalness, noun

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

Scientific definitions for empirical


[ ĕm-pîrĭ-kəl ]

  1. Relying on or derived from observation or experiment.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.