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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