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  1. of, like, or pertaining to an empire.
  2. of, like, or pertaining to an emperor or empress.
  3. characterizing the rule or authority of a sovereign state over its dependencies.
  4. of the nature or rank of an emperor or supreme ruler.
  5. of a commanding quality, manner, aspect, etc.
  6. domineering; imperious.
  7. befitting an emperor or empress; regal; majestic; very fine or grand; magnificent.
  8. of special or superior size or quality, as various products and commodities.
  9. (of weights and measures) conforming to the standards legally established in Great Britain.
  1. a size of printing or drawing paper, 22 × 30 inches (56 × 76 cm) in England, 23 × 33 inches (58 × 84 cm) in America.
  2. imperial octavo, a size of book, about 8¼ × 11½ inches (21 × 29 cm), untrimmed, in America, and 7½ × 11 inches (19 × 28 cm), untrimmed, in England. Abbreviation: imperial 8vo
  3. imperial quarto, Chiefly British. a size of book, about 11 × 15 inches (28 × 38 cm), untrimmed. Abbreviation: imperial 4to
  4. the top of a carriage, especially of a diligence.
  5. a case for luggage carried there.
  6. a member of an imperial party or of imperial troops.
  7. an emperor or empress.
  8. any of various articles of special size or quality.
  9. an oversized bottle used especially for storing Bordeaux wine, equivalent to 8 regular bottles or 6 liters (6.6 quarts).

Origin of imperial

1325–75; Middle English < Late Latin imperiālis, equivalent to Latin imperi(um) imperium + -ālis -al1; replacing Middle English emperial < Middle French < Late Latin, as above
Related formsim·pe·ri·al·ly, adverbim·pe·ri·al·ness, noun
Can be confusedimperative imperial imperious

Synonyms for imperial

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[im-peer-ee-uh l]
  1. a small, pointed beard beneath the lower lip.

Origin of imperial

1835–45; < French impériale, noun use of feminine of impérial imperial1


[im-peer-ee-uh l]
  1. a Russian gold coin originally worth 10 rubles and from 1897 to 1917 worth 15 rubles.

Origin of imperial

1830–40; < Russian imperiálMedieval Latin imperiālis a coin, noun use of Late Latin imperiālis imperial1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for imperial

Contemporary Examples of imperial

Historical Examples of imperial

British Dictionary definitions for imperial


  1. of or relating to an empire, emperor, or empress
  2. characteristic of or befitting an emperor; majestic; commanding
  3. characteristic of or exercising supreme authority; imperious
  4. (esp of products and commodities) of a superior size or quality
  5. (usually prenominal) (of weights, measures, etc) conforming to standards or definitions legally established in Britainan imperial gallon
  1. any of various book sizes, esp 7 1/2 by 11 inches (imperial octavo) or (chiefly Brit) 11 by 15 inches (imperial quarto)
  2. a size of writing or printing paper, 23 by 31 inches (US and Canadian) or 22 by 30 inches (Brit)
  3. (formerly) a Russian gold coin originally worth ten roubles
  4. US
    1. the top of a carriage, such as a diligence
    2. a luggage case carried there
  5. architect a dome that has a point at the top
  6. a small tufted beard popularized by the emperor Napoleon III
  7. a member of an imperial family, esp an emperor or empress
  8. a red deer having antlers with fourteen points
Derived Formsimperially, adverbimperialness, noun

Word Origin for imperial

C14: from Late Latin imperiālis, from Latin imperium command, authority, empire


  1. (sometimes not capital) of or relating to a specified empire, such as the British Empire
  1. a supporter or soldier of the Holy Roman Empire
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 imperial

late 14c., "having a commanding quality," from Old French imperial (12c.), from Latin imperialis "of the empire or emperor," from imperium (see empire). Meaning "pertaining to an empire" (especially the Roman) is from late 14c. Imperial presidency in a U.S. context traces to Arthur Schlesinger Jr.'s book on the Nixon administration (1974). Related: Imperially.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper