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


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for empirically

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The life in each of us takes hold of it and answers it empirically.


    Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson

  • As in other dreams, the empirically known sequence of events is ignored.

    The Behavior of Crowds

    Everett Dean Martin

  • The only reason we ignore this fact is because it is empirically taken for granted.

  • Empirically, of course, an awareness of self accompanies most of our thinking.

    On the Ethics of Naturalism

    William Ritchie Sorley

  • Here we have to determine the breadth of the ring in a new way, that is empirically.

British Dictionary definitions for empirically


  1. derived from or relating to experiment and observation rather than theory
  2. (of medical treatment) based on practical experience rather than scientific proof
  3. philosophy
    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)
  4. of or relating to medical quackery
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  1. statistics the posterior probability of an event derived on the basis of its observed frequency in a sampleCompare mathematical probability See also posterior probability
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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 empirically



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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

empirically in Medicine


  1. Relying on or derived from observation or experiment.
  2. Verifiable or provable by means of observation or experiment.
  3. Of or being a philosophy of medicine emphasizing practical experience and observation over scientific theory.
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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.

empirically in Science


  1. Relying on or derived from observation or experiment.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.