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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Empiric \Em*pir"ic\ (?; 277), n. [L. empiricus an empiric, Gr. ? experienced, equiv. to ?; ? in + ? a trial, experiment; akin to ? ford, way, and E. fare: cf. F. empirique. See In, and Fare.]

  1. One who follows an empirical method; one who relies upon practical experience.

  2. One who confines himself to applying the results of mere experience or his own observation; especially, in medicine, one who deviates from the rules of science and regular practice; an ignorant and unlicensed pretender; a quack; a charlatan.

    Among the Greek physicians, those who founded their practice on experience called themselves empirics.

    Swallow down opinions as silly people do empirics' pills.


Empiric \Em*pir"ic\, Empirical \Em*pir"ic*al\, a.

  1. Pertaining to, or founded upon, experiment or experience; depending upon the observation of phenomena; versed in experiments.

    In philosophical language, the term empirical means simply what belongs to or is the product of experience or observation.
    --Sir W. Hamilton.

    The village carpenter . . . lays out his work by empirical rules learnt in his apprenticeship.
    --H. Spencer.

  2. Depending upon experience or observation alone, without due regard to science and theory; -- said especially of medical practice, remedies, etc.; wanting in science and deep insight; as, empiric skill, remedies.

    Empirical formula. (Chem.) See under Formula.

    Syn: See Transcendental.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

c.1600, empirical, from Latin empiricus (n.) "a physician guided by experience," from Greek empeirikos "experienced," from empeiria "experience; mere experience or practice without knowledge," especially in medicine, from empeiros "experienced (in a thing), proven by use," from assimilated form of en "in" (see en- (2)) + peira "trial, experiment," from PIE *per- (3) "to try, risk" (see fear (n.)). Originally a school of ancient physicians who based their practice on experience rather than theory. Earlier as a noun (1540s) in reference to the sect, and earliest (1520s) in a sense "quack doctor" which was in frequent use 16c.-19c.


a. empirical n. 1 A member of a sect of ancient physicians who based their theories solely on experience. 2 Someone who is guided by empiricism; an empiricist. 3 Any unqualified or dishonest practitioner; a charlatan; a quack.

  1. adj. relying on medical quackery; "empiric treatment" [syn: empirical]

  2. derived from experiment and observation rather than theory; "an empirical basis for an ethical theory"; "empirical laws"; "empirical data"; "an empirical treatment of a disease about which little is known" [syn: empirical] [ant: theoretical]


Empiric can refer to:

  • Asclepiades of Bithynia
  • Empiricism
  • Empirical evidence
  • Empirical research
  • Empirical formula
  • A person who practices quackery

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Usage examples of "empiric".

The younger here of our ethereal band And hierarchy of Intelligences, That this thwart Parliament whose moods we watch-- So insular, empiric, un-ideal-- May figure forth in sharp and salient lines To retrospective eyes of afterdays, And print its legend large on History.

My disease was not a case within the province of empirics, and I bethought myself of confiding in M.

An empiric named Gendron, the first surgeon my servants had found, made an opening on the opposite side of my hand which doubled the wound.

Sometimes I had an idea of consulting my kind father, but I would soon abandon it with fear, for I had made a trial of his empiric treatment in the Rinaldi affair, and still more in the case of l'Abbadie.

As soon as the empiric Gendron was gone, the palatin's surgeon came in and took charge of the case, calling Gendron a low fellow.

After having received the compliments of the jailer on his recommitment, he took pen, ink, and paper, and composed an artful and affecting epistle to the empiric, imploring his mercy, flattering his weakness, and demonstrating the bad policy of cooping up an unhappy man in a jail, where he could never have an opportunity of doing justice to his creditors.