Origin of empty

before 900; Middle English (with intrusive -p-); Old English ǣmettig vacant (ǣmett(a) leisure (ǣ- a-3 + Germanic *mōtithō accommodation; cf. must1, meet1) + -ig -y1)
Related formsemp·ti·a·ble, adjectiveemp·ti·er, nounemp·ti·ly, adverbemp·ti·ness, nouno·ver·emp·ty, adjectivequa·si-emp·ty, adjectiveself-emp·ti·ness, nounself-emp·ty·ing, adjectiveun·emp·tied, adjectiveun·emp·ty, adjective

Synonyms for empty

1. vacuous. Empty, vacant, blank, void denote absence of content or contents. Empty means without appropriate or accustomed contents: an empty refrigerator. Vacant is usually applied to that which is temporarily unoccupied: a vacant chair; three vacant apartments. Blank applies to surfaces free from any marks or lacking appropriate markings, openings, etc.: blank paper; a blank wall. Void emphasizes completely unfilled space with vague, unspecified, or no boundaries: void and without form. 6. delusive, vain. 12. unload, unburden.

Antonyms for empty

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

Examples from the Web for emptily

Historical Examples of emptily

  • He looked into it with sharp scrutiny, and tapped it emptily on his open palm.

  • He's a curiously wrought cabinet full of shells and other trumpery, which were much better quite empty than so emptily filled.

    History of English Humour, Vol. 2 (of 2)

    Alfred Guy Kingan L'Estrange

  • Plan after plan was brought forward and set aside for this reason or for that, till at length they stared at each other emptily.

    The Lady Of Blossholme

    H. Rider Haggard

  • To us it seems far out of focus and expressed about as emptily and unhappily as possible.

    The Color Line

    William Benjamin Smith

  • And then he emptily talks of the "magnificent sweep of my eloquence," and my "oratoric power."

    Apologia pro Vita Sua

    John Henry Newman

British Dictionary definitions for emptily


adjective -tier or -tiest

containing nothing
without inhabitants; vacant or unoccupied
carrying no load, passengers, etc
without purpose, substance, or valuean empty life
insincere or trivialempty words
not expressive or vital; vacantshe has an empty look
informal hungry
(postpositive foll by of) devoid; destitutea life empty of happiness
informal drained of energy or emotionafter the violent argument he felt very empty
maths logic (of a set or class) containing no members
philosophy logic (of a name or description) having no reference

verb -ties, -tying or -tied

to make or become empty
(when intr, foll by into) to discharge (contents)
(tr often foll by of) to unburden or rid (oneself)to empty oneself of emotion

noun plural -ties

an empty container, esp a bottle
Derived Formsemptiable, adjectiveemptier, nounemptily, adverbemptiness, noun

Word Origin for empty

Old English ǣmtig, from æmetta free time, from æ- without + -metta, from mōtan to be obliged to; see must 1
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 emptily



c.1200, from Old English æmettig "at leisure, not occupied, unmarried," from æmetta "leisure," from æ "not" + -metta, from motan "to have" (see might (n.)). The -p- is a euphonic insertion.

Sense evolution from "at leisure" to "empty" is paralleled in several languages, e.g. Modern Greek adeios "empty," originally "freedom from fear," from deios "fear." "The adj. adeios must have been applied first to persons who enjoyed freedom from duties, leisure, and so were unoccupied, whence it was extended to objects that were unoccupied" [Buck].

The adjective also yielded a verb (1520s), replacing Middle English empten, from Old English geæmtigian. Related: Emptied; emptying. Figurative sense of empty-nester first attested 1987. Empty-handed attested from 1610s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with emptily


In addition to the idioms beginning with empty

  • empty calories
  • empty nest
  • empty suit

also see:

  • glass is half full (half empty)
  • running on empty
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.