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
  1. adjective
    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”
    synonyms: empiric
    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
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    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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  2. adjective
    relying on medical quackery
    synonyms: empiric
Word Family

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