If knowledge is empirical, it's based on observation rather than theory. To do an empirical study of donut shops, you'll need to visit every one you can find.

Empirical looks like empire but comes from a completely different origin: it is from the Greek empeirikos, meaning "experienced." It was originally used in medicine for doctors making choices based on observation and experiment rather than theoretical ideas. It's now used for any kind of knowledge that comes from experience. You can meditate all day on the origins of donuts, but until you visit the donut bakery you'll lack empirical knowledge of donut creation.

Definitions of empirical

adj derived from experiment and observation rather than theory

“an empirical basis for an ethical theory”
empirical laws”
empirical data”
“an empirical treatment of a disease about which little is known”
a posteriori
requiring evidence for validation or support
confirmable, falsifiable, verifiable
capable of being tested (verified or falsified) by experiment or observation
existential, experiential
derived from experience or the experience of existence
data-based, experimental, observational
relying on observation or experiment
of the nature of or undergoing an experiment
relying to some extent on observation or experiment
trying out various means or theories until error is satisfactorily reduced or eliminated
theoretic, theoretical
concerned primarily with theories or hypotheses rather than practical considerations
of an abstracting nature or having the power of abstracting
a priori
based on hypothesis or theory rather than experiment
circumstantial, conjectural, divinatory, hypothetic, hypothetical, supposed, suppositional, suppositious, supposititious
based primarily on surmise rather than adequate evidence
notional, speculative
not based on fact or investigation
highly abstract and overly theoretical
based in theory rather than experiment
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adj relying on medical quackery


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