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 Dictionary entry overview: What does empirical mean? 

EMPIRICAL (adjective)
  The adjective EMPIRICAL has 2 senses:

1. derived from experiment and observation rather than theory
2. relying on medical quackery

  Familiarity information: EMPIRICAL used as an adjective is rare.

 Dictionary entry details 

EMPIRICAL (adjective)

Sense 1empirical [BACK TO TOP]


Derived from experiment and observation rather than theory


empirical; empiric

Context examples:

an empirical basis for an ethical theory / empirical laws / empirical data / an empirical treatment of a disease about which little is known


a posteriori (requiring evidence for validation or support)

confirmable; falsifiable; verifiable (capable of being tested (verified or falsified) by experiment or observation)

existential; experiential (derived from experience or the experience of existence)

data-based; experimental; observational (relying on observation or experiment)

experimental (of the nature of or undergoing an experiment)

semiempirical (relying to some extent on observation or experiment)

trial-and-error (trying out various means or theories until error is satisfactorily reduced or eliminated)


theoretical (concerned primarily with theories or hypotheses rather than practical considerations)

Sense 2empirical [BACK TO TOP]


Relying on medical quackery

Classified under:

Relational adjectives (pertainyms)


empiric; empirical

Context example:

empiric treatment

Domain usage:

archaicism; archaism (the use of an archaic expression)


quackery (medical practice and advice based on observation and experience in ignorance of scientific findings)

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