Definition of emperor in English:



  • 1A sovereign ruler of great power and rank, especially one ruling an empire.

    • ‘Its rulers called themselves Roman emperors and its subjects were Roman citizens subject to Roman law.’
    • ‘The emperor and empress earlier in the day met with the king, who has been discharged from the hospital.’
    • ‘The Qing collections were among the finest ever assembled, fitting the scale of the empire over which the emperors ruled.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘For a century and a half, under three great emperors, the Qing Dynasty grew in wealth and territory.’
    • ‘Imperialism meant a state with an emperor, a ruler using military power to conquer other people.’
    • ‘Akbar is also the name of one of the Mughal emperors.’
    • ‘The most mystical of shades, purple, has been preferred by kings, queens and emperors throughout history.’
    • ‘China's emperors and empresses knew what they wanted.’
    • ‘The Forbidden City was the palace of Ming and Qing emperors and off-limits to ordinary Chinese citizens for 500 years.’
    • ‘A good road system also made it easier for the emperors to control their empire as messages and orders could be sent quickly.’
    • ‘Kings, queens, and emperors were slow to learn the lesson that money is for using, not hoarding.’
    • ‘The emperor and empress will leave Tokyo on May 7 and arrive in Dublin later that day.’
    • ‘It is characteristic that between 1025 and 1081, the empire had twelve emperors but only five patriarchs.’
    • ‘The king is expected to invite the emperor and empress to a private dinner at his palace on Wednesday.’
    • ‘The grand dukes became the tsars of Muscovy, who in turn became emperors of the Russian Empire.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘At the end of the passage, there is a big hillock, under which the first Qing emperor and empress are buried.’
    • ‘The exterior was decorated at the top with glistening gilded bronze shields, and the arches were filled with painted statues of emperors and gods.’
    • ‘In theory, all the princes in the Holy Roman Empire were subservient to the emperor.’
    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’
      • ‘Since everyone buys into the sham, there's no one around with the guts to notice the emperor's new clothes.’
      • ‘Most of what we viewed fell into the "emperor's new clothes" category.’
      • ‘Then suddenly the emperor's new clothes slipped away and the lack of inventive creativity became obvious.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He basically wrote that he thought the film was a fraud: "the emperor has no clothes".’
      • ‘His so-called 'art' was terrible - thank goodness people are realizing the emperor has no clothes.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘Like the mythical emperor's new clothes, the obscurity of highbrow discourse was merely a mystique that charlatans used to confound the gullible.’
      • ‘It is doubtful that anyone will tell the senator that the emperor has no clothes.’
      • ‘But virtually everyone is declaring 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- toward + parare prepare, contrive.