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Origin of empty

First recorded before 900; Middle English (with intrusive -p- ); Old English ǣm(et)tig “vacant,” from ǣm(et)ta “rest, leisure” (ǣ- a-3 + unattested Germanic mōtithō “accommodation”; cf. must1, meet1) + -ig -y1)

synonym study for empty

1. 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.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What is a basic definition of empty?

Empty describes something as containing nothing or to remove contents from something. Empty also describes something that is meaningless. Empty has several other senses as an adjective and a verb.

If something is empty, there is nothing in it. Empty is the opposite of full and is used to describe anything that has a complete absence of contents. Sometimes, empty has slightly different specific meanings depending on context. For example, an empty room might only lack people or it might be totally bare, with no furniture. Empty is also used in many figurative expressions, such as “an empty head,” meaning the person is unintelligent.

  • Real-life examples: An empty box has nothing inside it. An empty refrigerator has no food or anything else inside of it. An empty gascan has zero gas in it.
  • Used in a sentence: Luis drank the bottle of soda until it was totally empty. 

In a similar sense, empty is used as a verb to mean to remove contents from something or to become empty.

  • Used in a sentence: Antonio emptied the bucket of water into the river. 

As an adjective, empty can also describe something as being meaningless or hollow.

  • Real-life examples: If you give an empty compliment, you don’t actually mean the compliment or believe it to be true. An empty gesture is one that you don’t intend on doing or that won’t have any effect, like offering to help your friend with math when you don’t understand the math problems, either. If you have an empty life, you think your life doesn’t have any meaning or purpose.
  • Used in a sentence: My sister laughed at my empty threats of breaking her smartphone because she knew I would never actually do it. 

Where does empty come from?

The first records of empty come from before the 900s. It comes from the Old English ǣmtig, meaning “vacant,” which comes from æmetta, meaning “free time” or “leisure.”

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What are some other forms related to empty?

  • emptiness (noun)
  • emptiable (adjective)
  • emptier (noun)
  • emptily (adverb)
  • overempty (adjective)
  • quasi-empty (adjective)
  • self-emptiness (noun)
  • self-emptying (adjective)
  • unemptied (adjective)
  • unempty (adjective)

What are some synonyms for empty?

What are some words that share a root or word element with empty

What are some words that often get used in discussing empty?

How is empty used in real life?

Empty is a very common word used to describe things that have nothing in them.

Try using empty!

Is empty used correctly in the following sentence?

There was too much paint in the bucket so I emptied it until it was only half-full.

Example sentences from the Web for empty

British Dictionary definitions for empty

/ (ˈɛmptɪ) /

adjective -tier or -tiest

verb -ties, -tying or -tied

noun plural -ties

an empty container, esp a bottle

Derived forms of empty

emptiable, 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

Idioms and Phrases with empty


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.