From Middle English emty, amty, from Old English ǣmtiġ, ǣmettiġ (“vacant, empty, free, idle, unmarried”, literally “without must or obligation, leisurely”), from Proto-Germanic *uz- (“out”) + Proto-Germanic *mōtijô, *mōtô (“must, obligation, need”), *mōtiþô (“ability, accommodation”), from Proto-Indo-European *med- (“measure; to acquire, possess, be in command”). Related to Old English ġeǣmtigian (“to empty”), ǣmetta (“leisure”), mōtan (“can, to be allowed”). More at mote, meet.
The interconsonantal excrescent p is a euphonic insertion dating from Middle English.
- IPA(key): /ˈɛmp.ti/, /ˈɛm.ti/
Audio (US) (file) Audio (UK) (file)
- Rhymes: -ɛmpti, -ɛmti
- Hyphenation: emp‧ty
empty (comparative emptier, superlative emptiest)
- Devoid of content; containing nothing or nobody; vacant.
- Synonyms: unoccupied, clear, (obsolete) leer, (rare dialect) toom, clean
- Antonym: full
- an empty purse
- an empty jug
- an empty stomach
- 1949 June 8, George Orwell [pseudonym; Eric Arthur Blair], chapter 1, in Nineteen Eighty-Four: A Novel, London: Secker & Warburg, →OCLC; republished [Australia]: Project Gutenberg of Australia, August 2001, part 2, page 103:
- […] something in the little man's appearance suggested that he would be sufficiently attentive to his own comfort to choose the emptiest table.
- 2011 October 23, Phil McNulty, “Man Utd 1 - 6 Man City”, in BBC Sport:
- United's stature is such that one result must not bring the immediate announcement of a shift in the balance of power in Manchester - but the swathes of empty seats around Old Trafford and the wave of attacks pouring towards David de Gea's goal in the second half emphasised that City quite simply have greater firepower and talent in their squad at present.
- (computing, programming, mathematics) Containing no elements (as of a string, array, or set), opposed to being null (having no valid value).
- Antonym: non-empty
- (obsolete) Free; clear; devoid; often with of.
- c. 1595–1596 (date written), William Shakespeare, “Loues Labour’s Lost”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene ii], page 144:
- And I ſhal finde you emptie of that fault, / Right ioyfull of your reformation.
- 1667, John Milton, “Book XI”, in Paradise Lost. […], London: […] [Samuel Simmons], […], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, →OCLC, lines 614-617:
- For that fair femal Troop thou sawst, that seemd / Of Goddesses, so blithe, so smooth, so gay, / Yet empty of all good wherein consists / Womans domestic honour and chief praise;
- Having nothing to carry, emptyhanded; unburdened.
- c. 1587–1588, [Christopher Marlowe], Tamburlaine the Great. […] The First Part […], part 1, 2nd edition, London: […] [R. Robinson for] Richard Iones, […], published 1592, →OCLC; reprinted as Tamburlaine the Great (A Scolar Press Facsimile), Menston, Yorkshire; London: Scolar Press, 1973, →ISBN, Act I, scene ii:
- I hope our Ladies treaſure and our owne,
May ſerue for ranſome to our liberties:
Returne our Mules and emptie Camels backe,
That we may trauell into Siria, […]
- c. 1605–1608, William Shakespeare, “The Life of Tymon of Athens”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene vi], page 89:
- I hope it remaines not vnkindly with your Lordſhip, that I return'd you an empty Meſſenger.
- 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), London: […] Robert Barker, […], →OCLC, Exodus 3:21:
- And I will giue this people fauour in the sight of the Egyptians, and it shall come to passe that when ye goe, ye shall not goe empty:
- Destitute of effect, sincerity, or sense; said of language.
- empty words, or threats
- empty offer
- empty promises
- 1697, Colley Cibber, Woman's Wit, Act V, page 190, 
- […] words are but empty thanks; my future conduct best will speak my gratitude.
- Unable to satisfy; hollow; vain.
- empty pleasures
- 1713, Alexander Pope, “Windsor-Forest. […]”, in The Works of Mr. Alexander Pope, volume I, London: […] W[illiam] Bowyer, for Bernard Lintot, […], published 1717, →OCLC, lines 429-430:
- Ev'n I more sweetly pass my careless days, / Pleas'd in the silent shade with empty praise;
- Destitute of reality, or real existence; unsubstantial.
- empty dreams
- Destitute of, or lacking, sense, knowledge, or courtesy.
- empty brains
- an empty coxcomb
- c. 1598–1600 (date written), William Shakespeare, “As You Like It”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene vii], page 203, column 2:
- Art thou thus bolden'd man by thy diſtres? / Or elſe a rude deſpiſer of good manners, / That in ciuility thou ſeem'ſt ſo emptie?
- (of some female animals, especially cows and sheep) Not pregnant; not producing offspring when expected to do so during the breeding season.
- Empty cow rates have increased in recent years.
- (obsolete, of a plant or tree) Producing nothing; unfruitful.
- an empty vine
- 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), London: […] Robert Barker, […], →OCLC, Genesis 41:27:
- […] and the seuen emptie eares blasted with the East wind […]
- come away empty
- empty as a pauper's purse
- empty base
- empty calorie
- empty chair
- empty coaching stock
- empty constructor
- empty function
- empty graph
- empty morpheme
- empty nest
- empty nest syndrome
- empty nester
- empty net goal
- empty netter
- empty nose syndrome
- empty out
- empty page
- empty product
- empty set
- empty space
- empty stock working
- empty suit
- empty sum
- empty the bench
- empty threat
- empty vessels make the most noise
- empty vessels make the most sound
- empty words
- empty-nest syndrome
- empty-net goal
- on an empty stomach
- see the glass half-empty
empty (third-person singular simple present empties, present participle emptying, simple past and past participle emptied)
- (transitive, ergative) To make empty; to void; to remove the contents of.
- to empty a well or a cistern
- The cinema emptied quickly after the end of the film.
- 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), London: […] Robert Barker, […], →OCLC, Ecclesiastes 11:3:
- If the clouds be full of raine, they emptie themselues vpon the earth […]
- (intransitive) Of a river, duct, etc: to drain or flow toward an ultimate destination.
- Salmon River empties on the W shore about 2 miles below Bear River.
- 1899, Horace White, trans., Appian:
- Of these the Rhine empties into the Northern ocean and the Danube into the Euxine.
empty (plural empties)
- (usually plural) A container, especially a bottle, whose contents have been used up, leaving it empty.
- Put the empties out to be recycled.
- 2019 October, Steve Stubbs, photo caption, “'60' on the stone”, in Modern Railways, page 20:
- A number of locomotives have been drafted into the area to cover the traction shortfall, including two Class 60s: here No 60039 accelerates away from Eastleigh on the Chandlers Ford branch with the lunchtime Fareham to Whatley quarry empties [empty wagons] on 20 August 2019.
- ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “empty”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
- empty in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
- empty in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911