Definition of empty in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈem(p)tē/

adjective (emptier, emptiest)

1Containing nothing; not filled or occupied: he took his empty coffee cup back to the counter the room was empty of furniture
More example sentences
  • Before he could answer, the waitress came over and filled their empty cups with coffee.
  • And, of course, conferences are generally held at an offpeak time of the year when there are plenty of empty beds to fill.
  • When they looked inside, they found the hall mostly empty.
vacant, unoccupied, uninhabited, untenanted, bare, desolate, deserted, abandoned;
clear, free
1.1 Mathematics (Of a set) containing no members or elements.
Example sentences
  • So, with changes in k, the core for this example progresses from an interval, to a point, to the empty set.
  • The set-theoretic hierarchy is thoroughly abstract, consisting of the empty set, the powerset of the empty set, and so on.
  • Parmenides claimed that we cannot conceptualize nothing, the empty set.
2(Of words or a gesture) lacking meaning or sincerity: his answer sounded a little empty empty threats
More example sentences
  • Offensive words, empty gestures, and the inappropriate use of symbols can get in the way of worship.
  • The threats appeared to be empty gestures to the friends who overheard him.
  • But forgiving poor countries' debts without agreeing on a better framework for future aid flows is an empty gesture.
3Having no value or purpose: her life felt empty and meaningless
More example sentences
  • I think that every one of us should find his own truth, some idea for which one can live or die - otherwise our lives would be empty and meaningless.
  • This young man believes life would be empty and dull without music.
  • The dream was fading away, and all I had was this hollow, empty pain inside.
4 informal Hungry.

verb (empties, emptying, emptied)

[with object]
1Remove all the contents of (a container): we empty the cash register each night at closing time pockets were emptied of loose change
More example sentences
  • While she was doing this, she lost property, including a gold watch, and her purse was emptied of cash.
  • Tills were emptied of cash and the thieves took jewellery and money from customers and staff, police report.
  • He emptied the basket, removed two tins of plum tomatoes, put them on the floor and repacked.
unload, unpack, void;
clear, evacuate
1.1Remove (the contents) from a container: he emptied out the contents of his briefcase
More example sentences
  • The pouch's remaining contents was emptied out into her waiting palm and then applied to her mass of hair.
  • He emptied the contents into the toilet and used the containers as raw material for his sculpture.
  • The sky is filled with the remnants of the enormous cumulonimbus rain clouds that have been building up, emptying their contents and building up again all day.
remove, take out, extract, tip out, pour out, dump out, drain
1.2 [no object] (Of a place) be vacated by people in it: the bar suddenly seemed to empty
More example sentences
  • Many fans eventually wandered back out to their seats, but early in the fourth quarter, the place emptied for good.
  • The streets of the centre of the city emptied as frightened residents fled home to take shelter.
  • Swindon's streets had emptied as the town united for the big day.
1.3 [no object] (empty into) (Of a river) discharge itself into (the sea or a lake).
Example sentences
  • That would improve the water volume of 145 rivers, which empty into the lake.
  • Double Bridges Creek, located in the south-central section of the county, flows southwest and empties into the Pea River.
  • And then, around one of its many bends, the river rapidly emptied into a lake many leagues across and ringed by small hills.

noun (plural empties)

(usually empties) informal
A container (especially a bottle or glass) left empty of its contents.
Example sentences
  • The grass where I stood to take these pictures was littered with empties, mostly bourbon-and-cola bottles.
  • He pointed to a yellow plastic crate with the empties neatly stacked among full bottles.
  • Service was quick and friendly and the collection of empties swift.



running on empty

Exhausted of all one’s resources or sustenance.
Example sentences
  • Plus, I was exhausted, running on empty by then.
  • He goes on to suggest that America is now an empire running on empty, backing away from the crucial imperial commitments of time, money and manpower - and resting on perilous financial foundations.
  • I've been running on empty for over two weeks now.

empty vessels make the most noise (or sound)

proverb Those with least wisdom or knowledge are always the most talkative.

on an empty stomach



Pronunciation: /ˈem(p)təlē/
Example sentences
  • People scarred by violence are often shells of their former selves, hollowed-out structures that move emptily through the world.
  • Amid the crumbling plaster and tattered curtains, they spin out a private little reality that emptily echoes a life without meaning.
  • ‘No, there is nothing there,’ said Luke emptily.


Old English ǣmtig, ǣmetig 'at leisure, unoccupied, empty', from ǣmetta 'leisure', perhaps from ā 'no, not' + mōt 'meeting' (see moot).

  • In Anglo-Saxon times empty meant ‘at leisure’, unoccupied’, and also ‘unmarried’ as well as ‘not filled’. It came from Old English æmetta ‘leisure’. The proverb empty vessels make most noise, meaning that foolish people are always the most talkative, dates back to the work of the 15th-century poet John Lydgate.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: emp·ty

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