1560s, originally in medicine, "pertaining to or derived from experience or experiments," 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-ya-, suffixed form of root *per- (3) "to try, risk." With -al (1). In a general sense of "guided by mere experience" from 1757. Related: Empirically (1640s as "by means of observation and experiment").
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