from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Having nothing inside or on the surface; holding or containing nothing.
  • adjective Mathematics Having no elements or members; null.
  • adjective Having no occupants; not being used.
  • adjective Not having an incumbent or occupant; unfilled.
  • adjective Not put to purposeful use; idle.
  • adjective Lacking force or power.
  • adjective Lacking purpose or substance; meaningless.
  • adjective Needing nourishment; hungry.
  • adjective Devoid; destitute.
  • intransitive verb To remove the contents of.
  • intransitive verb To transfer or pour off completely.
  • intransitive verb To unburden; relieve.
  • intransitive verb To become empty.
  • intransitive verb To discharge its contents.
  • noun An empty container.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Containing nothing, or nothing but air; void of its usual or of appropriate contents; vacant; unoccupied: said of any inclosure or allotted space: as, an empty house or room; an empty chest or purse; an empty chair or saddle.
  • Void; devoid; destitute of some essential quality or component.
  • Destitute of force, effect, significance, or value; without valuable content; meaningless: as, empty words; empty compliments.
  • Destitute of knowledge or sense; ignorant: as, an empty coxcomb.
  • Forlorn from destitution or deprivation; desolate; deserted.
  • Wanting substance or solidity; lacking reality; unsubstantial; unsatisfactory: as, empty air; empty dreams; empty pleasures.
  • Not burdened; not bearing a burden or a rider: as, an empty horse.
  • Not supplied; without provision.
  • Wanting food; fasting; hungry.
  • Bearing no fruit; without useful product.
  • Producing no effect or result; ineffectual.
  • Synonyms Void, etc. (see vacant); unoccupied, bare, unfurnished.
  • Weak, silly, senseless.
  • Unsatisfying, vain, hollow.
  • noun An empty vessel or other receptacle, as a box or sack, packing-case, etc.; an empty vehicle, as a cab, freightcar, etc.: as, returned empties.
  • To deprive of contents; remove, pour, or draw out the contents from; make vacant: with of before the thing removed: as, to empty a well or a cistern; to empty a pitcher or a purse; to empty a house of its occupants.
  • To draw out, pour out, or otherwise remove or discharge, as the contents of a vessel: commonly with out: as, to empty out the water from a pitcher.
  • To discharge; pour out continuously or in a steady course: as, a river empties itself or its waters into the ocean. [A strained use, which it is preferable to avoid, since a river is not emptied by its flow into the ocean.]
  • To lay waste; make destitute or desolate.
  • To become empty.
  • To pour out or discharge its contents, as a river into the ocean.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To deprive of the contents; to exhaust; to make void or destitute; to make vacant; to pour out; to discharge
  • noun An empty box, crate, cask, etc.; -- used in commerce, esp. in transportation of freight.”
  • intransitive verb To discharge itself.
  • intransitive verb To become empty.
  • adjective Containing nothing; not holding or having anything within; void of contents or appropriate contents; not filled; -- said of an inclosure, or a container, as a box, room, house, etc.
  • adjective Free; clear; devoid; -- often with of.
  • adjective Having nothing to carry; unburdened.
  • adjective Destitute of effect, sincerity, or sense; -- said of language.
  • adjective Unable to satisfy; unsatisfactory; hollow; vain; -- said of pleasure, the world, etc.
  • adjective Producing nothing; unfruitful; -- said of a plant or tree.
  • adjective Destitute of, or lacking, sense, knowledge, or courtesy
  • adjective Destitute of reality, or real existence; unsubstantial.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old English ǣmtig, vacant, unoccupied, from ǣmetta, leisure; see med- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.


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  • An empty box on the stage is not described to an audience as “empty, ” but is handled and moved about in the same way that any empty box would be treated -- though a tremulous bunny just might be hanging, unnoticed, behind it.

    In Defense Of Trust 2010

  • An empty box on the stage is not described to an audience as “empty, ” but is handled and moved about in the same way that any empty box would be treated -- though a tremulous bunny just might be hanging, unnoticed, behind it.

    In Defense Of Trust 2010

  • An empty smoker in the Cornish express -- _empty_ except for me!

    Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 159, August 25th, 1920 Various

  • Those empty vessels of ours, hearts "endowed with inexhaustible hope," must turn away from the grave (?) _empty still_.

    The Christian Foundation, Or, Scientific and Religious Journal, Volume 1, January, 1880 Various

  • Instances of the word are not frequent, possibly because we had another word for empty (_toom_) in common with the Danes; but perhaps there was no necessity for dwelling upon it in the sense of _empty_; it was only its application as an epithet to a _concave_ or _hollow shield_ that your question could have had in view.

    Notes and Queries, Number 19, March 9, 1850 Various

  • When they turn down an empty glass for me, it's going to be _empty_.

    The Plastic Age Percy Marks 1923

  • They had come to the same conclusion I had, that there wasn't any way of escape _except by that empty lateral_, _assuming it had been empty_.

    Brand Blotters William MacLeod Raine 1912

  • Liu's empty chair at that ceremony is still a symbol of Chinese government repression, and Chinese Web search engines have blocked the phrase "empty chair" in a bid to shut down discussion of his case.

    Yahoo! News: Business - Opinion 2011

  • It occurred to me soon after Sam got home, in fact-when I felt lighter, happier, and had exercised my bragging rights insufferably about his adaptation to college-that the term empty nest is a misnomer.

    Slate Magazine Mimi Swartz 2010

  • He has coined the term empty creditor to describe situations in which people to whom money is owed don't act as if they want to preserve the company that owes them money.

    The Rise of the 'Empty Creditor' 2009


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  • Running on empty...

    August 2, 2008

  • Right! Pro -- are you swimming back to the USA? ;)

    August 2, 2008

  • Sounds like the letters M T.

    October 28, 2009