having nothing in the hands, as in doing no work: While we were carrying out the luggage, he stood by empty-handed.
having gained nothing: to return from a quest empty-handed.
bringing no gift, donation, etc.: They came to the birthday party empty-handed.

Nearby words

  1. empty nest,
  2. empty nester,
  3. empty set,
  4. empty suit,
  5. empty word,
  6. empty-headed,
  7. empty-nest syndrome,
  8. empty-nester,
  9. empurple,
  10. empyema

Origin of empty-handed

First recorded in 1605–15

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

Examples from the Web for empty-handed

British Dictionary definitions for empty-handed



carrying nothing in the hands
having gained nothingthey returned from the negotiations empty-handed
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