Word Origin & History
O.E. æmettig "at leisure, not occupied, unmarried," from æmetta "leisure," from æ "not" + -metta, from motan "to have" (see might
). The -p- is a euphonic insertion. Sense evolution from "at leisure" to "empty" is paralleled in several languages, cf. Mod.Gk.
adeios "empty," originally "freedom from fear," from deios "fear." "The adj. adeios must have been applied first to persons who enjoyed freedom from duties, leisure, and so were unoccupied, whence it was extended to objects that were unoccupied" [Buck]. The adj. also became the v. in 16c., replacing M.E. empten, from O.E. geæmtigian. Figurative sense of empty-nester first attested 1987. Empty-handed attested from 1613.