derived from or guided by experience or experiment.
depending upon experience or observation alone, without using scientific method or theory, especially as in medicine.
provable or verifiable by experience or experiment.

Origin of empirical

First recorded in 1560–70; empiric + -al1
Related formsem·pir·i·cal·ly, adverbem·pir·i·cal·ness, nounan·ti·em·pir·i·cal, adjectivean·ti·em·pir·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·em·pir·i·cal, adjectivenon·em·pir·i·cal·ly, adverbo·ver·em·pir·i·cal, adjectiveo·ver·em·pir·i·cal·ly, adverbsem·i·em·pir·i·cal, adjectivesem·i·em·pir·i·cal·ly, adverbun·em·pir·i·cal, adjectiveun·em·pir·i·cal·ly, adverb

Synonyms for empirical

Antonyms for empirical

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

Examples from the Web for empirical

Contemporary Examples of empirical

Historical Examples of empirical

  • They would have shrunk from the empirical freedom that results from a little beer.

    The Longest Journey

    E. M. Forster

  • That is a question of faith and empirical evidence with which we are not here concerned.

    The Sense of Beauty

    George Santayana

  • There is after all some justification for Guetta's criticism of empirical instruction.

  • The method from that time on is about of the type described as empirical.

  • Empirical teaching based on the singer's sensations is of no avail.

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
  1. (of knowledge) derived from experience rather than by logic from first principlesCompare a priori, a posteriori
  2. (of a proposition) subject, at least theoretically, to verificationCompare analytic (def. 4), synthetic (def. 4)
of or relating to medical quackery


statistics the posterior probability of an event derived on the basis of its observed frequency in a sampleCompare mathematical probability See also posterior probability
Derived Formsempirically, adverbempiricalness, 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

Word Origin and History for empirical

1560s, from empiric + -al (1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

empirical in Medicine




Relying on or derived from observation or experiment.
Verifiable or provable by means of observation or experiment.
Of or being a philosophy of medicine emphasizing practical experience and observation over scientific theory.
Related formsem•piri•cal•ly adv.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

empirical in Science



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.