Definition of emperor in English:



  • 1A sovereign ruler of an empire.

    ‘he became emperor in 1930’
    ‘he is regarded as one of the greatest Roman emperors’
    • ‘At the end of the passage, there is a big hillock, under which the first Qing emperor and empress are buried.’
    • ‘The grand dukes became the tsars of Muscovy, who in turn became emperors of the Russian Empire.’
    • ‘For a century and a half, under three great emperors, the Qing Dynasty grew in wealth and territory.’
    • ‘Akbar is also the name of one of the Mughal emperors.’
    • ‘The Forbidden City was the palace of Ming and Qing emperors and off-limits to ordinary Chinese citizens for 500 years.’
    • ‘That's why, for much of history, furs and skins from the more aggressive carnivores have been an essential part of the ceremonial dress of kings, emperors and dictators.’
    • ‘The Qing collections were among the finest ever assembled, fitting the scale of the empire over which the emperors ruled.’
    • ‘It is characteristic that between 1025 and 1081, the empire had twelve emperors but only five patriarchs.’
    • ‘In theory, all the princes in the Holy Roman Empire were subservient to the emperor.’
    • ‘The emperor and empress will leave Tokyo on May 7 and arrive in Dublin later that day.’
    • ‘Its rulers called themselves Roman emperors and its subjects were Roman citizens subject to Roman law.’
    • ‘China's emperors and empresses knew what they wanted.’
    • ‘The king is expected to invite the emperor and empress to a private dinner at his palace on Wednesday.’
    • ‘The emperor and empress earlier in the day met with the king, who has been discharged from the hospital.’
    • ‘Imperialism meant a state with an emperor, a ruler using military power to conquer other people.’
    • ‘A good road system also made it easier for the emperors to control their empire as messages and orders could be sent quickly.’
    • ‘The exterior was decorated at the top with glistening gilded bronze shields, and the arches were filled with painted statues of emperors and gods.’
    • ‘Kings, queens, and emperors were slow to learn the lesson that money is for using, not hoarding.’
    • ‘The most mystical of shades, purple, has been preferred by kings, queens and emperors throughout history.’
    • ‘The first of the Mughal emperors, Babur, in spite of his keen aesthetic sense, did not have the time to embark upon a concerted program of building.’
    ruler, sovereign, king, monarch, potentate, lord, overlord
    ethnarch, autarch
    View synonyms
  • 2An orange and brown North American butterfly with a swift dodging flight, breeding chiefly on hackberries.


  • the emperor's new clothes

    • Used in reference to a situation in which people believe or pretend to believe in the worth or importance of something that is worthless, or fear to point out an obvious truth that is counter to prevailing opinion.

      ‘is his white canvas a case of the emperor's new clothes or is it something beautiful, even moving?’
      ‘this is the first time that anyone has stripped his work of its rhetoric and shown that this particular emperor has no clothes’
      • ‘He basically wrote that he thought the film was a fraud: "the emperor has no clothes".’
      • ‘Since everyone buys into the sham, there's no one around with the guts to notice the emperor's new clothes.’
      • ‘But virtually everyone is declaring the emperor has no clothes.’
      • ‘It is doubtful that anyone will tell the senator that the emperor has no clothes.’
      • ‘Then suddenly the emperor's new clothes slipped away and the lack of inventive creativity became obvious.’
      • ‘Like the mythical emperor's new clothes, the obscurity of highbrow discourse was merely a mystique that charlatans used to confound the gullible.’
      • ‘Unfortunately it is a case of the emperor's new clothes: the critics and media say the actors are wonderful - hence the punters pay stupid money to see them!’
      • ‘I tend to think that if the emperor has no clothes, it doesn't matter how smart one claims to be or how deep one's point may be.’
      • ‘Most of what we viewed fell into the "emperor's new clothes" category.’
      • ‘His so-called 'art' was terrible - thank goodness people are realizing the emperor has no clothes.’


Middle English (especially representing the title given to the head of the Roman Empire): from Old French emperere, from Latin imperator military commander, from imperare to command, from in- towards + parare prepare, contrive.