From Middle English emty, 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 ġeǣmtiġian ‎(to empty), Old English ǣmetta ‎(leisure), Old English mōtan ‎(must, might, have to). More at mote, meet.


  • IPA(key): /ˈɛmpti/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: emp‧ty


empty ‎(comparative emptier, superlative emptiest)

  1. Devoid of content; containing nothing or nobody; vacant.
    an empty purse; an empty jug; an empty stomach
    • 2011 October 23, Phil McNulty, “Man Utd 1 - 6 Man City”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      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.
  2. (computing, programming) Containing no elements (as of a string or array), opposed to being null (having no valid value).
  3. (obsolete) Free; clear; devoid; often with of.
    • Milton
      that fair female troop [] empty of all good
    • Shakespeare
      I shall find you empty of that fault.
  4. Having nothing to carry; unburdened.
    • Shakespeare
      an empty messenger
    • Bible, Exodus iii. 21
      When ye go ye shall not go empty.
  5. Destitute of effect, sincerity, or sense; said of language.
    empty words, or threats
    • Cibber
      Words are but empty thanks.
  6. Unable to satisfy; hollow; vain.
    empty pleasures
    • Alexander Pope
      pleas'd in the silent shade with empty praise
  7. Destitute of reality, or real existence; unsubstantial.
    empty dreams
  8. (obsolete) Producing nothing; unfruitful; said of a plant or tree.
    an empty vine
    • Bible, Genesis xli. 27
      seven empty ears blasted with the east wind
  9. Destitute of, or lacking, sense, knowledge, or courtesy.
    empty brains; an empty coxcomb
    • Shakespeare
      that in civility thou seem'st so empty



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empty ‎(third-person singular simple present empties, present participle emptying, simple past and past participle emptied)

  1. (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.
    • Bible, Eccl. xi. 3
      The clouds [] empty themselves upon the earth.
  2. (intransitive) Of a river, duct, etc: to drain or flow toward an ultimate destination.
    Of these the Rhine empties into the Northern ocean and the Danube into the Euxine. – Horace White's 1899 translation of Appian (2nd C.)
    Salmon River empties on the W shore about 2 miles below Bear River. – Dixon Entrance to Ketchikan


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empty ‎(plural empties)

  1. A container, especially a bottle, whose contents have been used up, leaving it empty.
    Put the empties out to be recycled.

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