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

  • adj. Holding or containing nothing.
  • adj. Mathematics Having no elements or members; null: an empty set.
  • adj. Having no occupants or inhabitants; vacant: an empty chair; empty desert.
  • adj. Lacking force or power: an empty threat.
  • adj. Lacking purpose or substance; meaningless: an empty life.
  • adj. Not put to use; idle: empty hours.
  • adj. Needing nourishment; hungry: "More fierce and more inexorable far/Than empty tigers or the roaring sea” ( Shakespeare).
  • adj. Devoid; destitute: empty of pity.
  • transitive v. To remove the contents of: emptied the dishwasher.
  • transitive v. To transfer or pour off completely: empty the ashes into a pail.
  • transitive v. To unburden; relieve: empty oneself of doubt.
  • intransitive v. To become empty: The theater emptied after the performance.
  • intransitive v. To discharge its contents: The river empties into a bay.
  • n. Informal An empty container.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Devoid of content; containing nothing or nobody; vacant.
  • adj. Containing no elements (as of a string or array), opposed to being null (having no valid value).
  • v. To make empty; to void; to remove the contents of.
  • n. A bottle previously containing some liquid, especially a drink, and that is now empty.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. 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.
  • adj. Free; clear; devoid; -- often with of.
  • adj. Having nothing to carry; unburdened.
  • adj. Destitute of effect, sincerity, or sense; -- said of language.
  • adj. Unable to satisfy; unsatisfactory; hollow; vain; -- said of pleasure, the world, etc.
  • adj. Producing nothing; unfruitful; -- said of a plant or tree.
  • adj. Destitute of, or lacking, sense, knowledge, or courtesy
  • adj. Destitute of reality, or real existence; unsubstantial.
  • n. An empty box, crate, cask, etc.; -- used in commerce, esp. in transportation of freight.”
  • intransitive v. To discharge itself.
  • intransitive v. To become empty.
  • transitive v. To deprive of the contents; to exhaust; to make void or destitute; to make vacant; to pour out; to discharge

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • n. 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 WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. emptied of emotion
  • adj. holding or containing nothing
  • v. become empty or void of its content
  • adj. needing nourishment
  • adj. devoid of significance or point
  • v. leave behind empty; move out of
  • v. remove
  • v. excrete or discharge from the body
  • n. a container that has been emptied
  • v. make void or empty of contents


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

Middle English, from Old English ǣmtig, vacant, unoccupied, from ǣmetta, leisure.

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.


  • 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

  • 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

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

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

  • 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

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

    The Plastic Age

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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'

  • They fill all material bodies and occupy the whole of what we call empty space.

    The Master Key System


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    October 28, 2009

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    August 2, 2008

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    August 2, 2008