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.
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.
provable or verifiable by experience or experiment, as scientific laws: Theoretical physics is criticized for producing complex concepts that are mathematical, not empirical.
Click for a side-by-side comparison of meanings. Use the word comparison feature to learn the differences between similar and commonly confused words.
- 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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use empirical in a sentence
Scientific history also shows that as empirical knowledge increases, we tend to converge on a shared explanation.Your Guide to the Many Meanings of Quantum Mechanics - Facts So Romantic | Sabine Hossenfelder | September 3, 2020 | Nautilus
As a philosopher who focuses on the study of animal cognition, I examine both empirical and theoretical work to answer these types of questions.Animals That Can Do Math Understand More Language Than We Think | Erik Nelson | June 14, 2020 | Singularity Hub
According to Raposo, it “called the attention of many scientists working in the area to the use of more powerful and modern statistical techniques of empirical data analysis of animal movement.”Random Search Wired Into Animals May Help Them Hunt | Liam Drew | June 11, 2020 | Quanta Magazine
For economists who already felt confident in the theoretical arguments against rent control, research like Diamond’s provides empirical evidence that essentially tells the same story.Why Rent Control Doesn’t Work (Ep. 373 Rebroadcast) | Stephen J. Dubner | March 12, 2020 | Freakonomics
So Bob, you and your fellow C-POST researchers try to use empirical means, data analysis — when available — to understand foreign policy.
How do archaeologists wrap an empirical mind around capturing history?
Overall, the weight of the empirical evidence supports these essentially conservative arguments for the minimum wage.To Make Their Victory Durable, the GOP Must Fix the Minimum Wage | Dmitri Mehlhorn | November 6, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
In all, Schwitzgebel thinks that this study has been an important step forward in empirical research of morality.It’s Official: Religion Doesn’t Make You More Moral | Elizabeth Picciuto | September 23, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
There is little empirical data on how an early marriage affects young men.
No empirical data support his claim that the birth of a baby with Down syndrome makes the world—or the baby—unhappier.
It is at best an empirical test and must be interpreted in the light of clinical symptoms.A Manual of Clinical Diagnosis | James Campbell Todd
So long as bridge building was an empirical art, great waste of material was unavoidable.
The margin of uncertainty which must be met by empirical allowances on the side of safety has been steadily diminished.
Waddell (De Pontibus) gives the following convenient empirical relations.
Nor do I think they would have learnt much of the art from Mr. Bradlaugh, except in an empirical way.Reminiscences of Charles Bradlaugh | George W. Foote
British Dictionary definitions for empirical
derived from or relating to experiment and observation rather than theory
(of medical treatment) based on practical experience rather than scientific proof
- 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
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.