Imperial vs. Empyreal

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Imperial and empyreal are two words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings, which makes them homophones. We will examine the definitions of imperial and empyreal, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Imperial describes things that are somehow connected to an empire or an emperor. The word imperial is also sometimes used to describe something that is majestic. Imperial may be used to describe someone who is domineering and controlling, but the word imperious is a better choice for this situation. Imperial is also used to mean a system of weights and measures used in the United Kingdom before the conversion to the metric system. The word imperial is derived from the Latin word imperium meaning command or empire.

Empyreal means heavenly or the epitome of beauty. The adjective empyrean is interchangeable with empyreal, though neither word is used very often. The word empyreal is derived from the Greek word empyros which means fiery.


Emperor Akihito’s health is improving, the Imperial Household Agency said Wednesday, after he had to cancel official duties earlier this week due to dizziness and nausea. (The Japan Times)

As the court’s swing vote, though, he instead consolidated the judiciary’s imperial role — taking the expansive powers claimed by judicial liberals in the Warren era and turning them to his own purposes, his own vision of the common good. (The New York Times)

Complimenting the man who helped inspire the 1970s with Roxy Music (a band whom author Michael Bracewell described as “the portal through which one might glimpse, or even reach, the empyreal world”) on the evolution of his voice is hardly a revelation. (The Independent)

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