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empire (n.)

14世纪中叶,"受皇帝统治的领土;"一般为"境界、统治";14世纪末为"皇帝的权威,统治的最高权力;帝国权力",中古英语一般为罗马帝国。

来自古法语 empire "统治、权威、王国、帝国统治"(11世纪),来自拉丁文 imperium "一个规则、一个命令;权威、控制、权力;最高权力、唯一统治;军事权威;一个统治、境界",来自 imperare "命令",来自 in- "在"(来自PIE根 *en "在")+ parare "命令、准备"(来自PIE根 *pere- (1)"生产、采购")的同化形式。

在词源上不限于"皇帝统治的领土",而是这样使用。 The Empire ,意为"大英帝国",最早记载于1772年(1931年正式下放为"英联邦");在此之前是指神圣罗马帝国(1670年代)。

[P]roperly an empire is an aggregate of conquered, colonized, or confederated states, each with its own government subordinate or tributary to that of the empire as a whole. [Century Dictionary] 

Empire ,作为一种风格的名称(特别是指一种高腰线的礼服风格),到1860年,是指拿破仑一世(1804-15年)统治时期法国盛行的受影响的古典主义。 Second Empire 是指法国拿破仑三世(1852-70)统治时期。纽约被称为 Empire State 自1834年以来。

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Definitions of empire from WordNet
1
empire (n.)
the domain ruled by an emperor or empress; the region over which imperial dominion is exercised;
Synonyms: imperium
empire (n.)
a group of countries under a single authority;
the British created a great empire
empire (n.)
a monarchy with an emperor as head of state;
empire (n.)
a group of diverse companies under common ownership and run as a single organization;
Synonyms: conglomerate
2
Empire (n.)
an eating apple that somewhat resembles a McIntosh; used as both an eating and a cooking apple;
From wordnet.princeton.edu