Is there a single word which means "not empty"? That is, a word which one might use to describe a field with one or more cows in it, as opposed to an "empty" field with none?

Full or even partially-full are not appropriate, because the number of animals is indeterminate, and the final count could be a single bull [which are best kept on their own] or fifty cows. Or three sheep. And the field is really only full when there is no more space available.

I'd prefer a single word, to go with the single word "Empty". Currently I'm using "has animals" which I feel is not particularly succinct.

[This is an edit of the original question reproduced below, in an effort to keep it on-topic]

I'm trying to figure out the names for different states of a set of items, empty or non-empty.
What I came up with so far:


HasItems seems awkward, I would rather use one word than two.
How do you call a set that is not empty, i.e. has at least one item, in a common language?

  • 2
    You could use Populated but I prefer HasItems.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 10:58
  • 3
    Off Topic: "Naming, including naming programming variables/classes". Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 11:25
  • 1
    @AndrewLeach That reads like “haslterns” in this font, as though Hazel had terns amongst her gulls. Yet another reason to write it as has_items, which is much easier on the eye.
    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 12:51
  • 2
    @tchrist Sorry. Populated is an option, but I prefer HasItems (following the camelCase convention, which is admittedly not universally popular).
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 12:53
  • @Andrew Thanks for the edit. The question is now clearly On Topic: The first item listed under "Ask about..." in the tour is "Word choice and usage".
    – willkil
    Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 21:16

5 Answers 5


Mathematicians always use the word nonempty. Maybe you will like it, too.

(of a set or class) not empty; having at least one element or member

  • 2
    +1 Especially since this seems to be for a computer program dealing with a set, and nonempty is often used of sets in computer science and programming too, so it is the mot juste.
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 14:59
  • 3
    Actually, "The milk bottle was nonempty" is different than "The milk bottle was nontrivial".
    – GEdgar
    Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 18:11
  • 1
    @Mitch while that is also used in computer science and programming, it is not synonymous with non-empty in those fields, nor in mathematics.
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 1:58
  • 1
    @LSpice, JonHanna, GEdgar: Yes, you are all right. 'non-trivial' is similar but just not the same thing as nonempty.
    – Mitch
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 15:24
  • 1
    @Mitch, ha, one of the rare instances where the sense of "all right" is not "it's all right"!
    – LSpice
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 16:29

Dictionary.com has the following for empty:

  1. containing nothing; having none of the usual or appropriate contents: an empty bottle.
  2. vacant; unoccupied: an empty house.
  3. without cargo or load: an empty wagon.
  4. destitute of people or human activity: We walked along the empty streets of the city at night.

While there is no real antonym for (1) other than not empty or containing liquid (or cows), the other meanings do have single opposing words,

occupied; laden; populous/populated

If those words aren't suitable, perhaps you might use them to find synonyms.

  • 5
    I'm abruptly a big fan of 'laden' to describe a string that is neither null, nor empty. I can cope with calling a string 'nonempty' or 'nonnull', but 'nonnull and nonempty' is too much of a mouthful, and really needs shortening given how frequently it's used in computing. Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 9:03
  • 1
    Agreed. I hate using negatives for boolean names, 'populated' is too long, and 'hasItems' isn't an adjective. 'isLadenArray' sounds perfect.
    – aaaaaa
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 8:28
  • In computer technical writings, it's common to use the term 'populate' when referring to the setting of a variable value.
    – CJBS
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 18:50
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    @android.weasel plus it helps Python code with the convention of Monty Python references.
    – Bob Stein
    Commented Jun 29, 2019 at 16:30
  • 1
    Having said what I said, non-empty implies non-null, even if you have a nullable reference to a set. The question only really started coming up for me when I was forced to use Ruby: before it supported nil short-circuit with bin&.empty? == false, the code was even uglier and less comprehensible. Even now, I would still prefer the terser bin.laden? Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 7:42

By mathematical terminology, you may consider inhabited or nonempty; both apply to sets. These usually carry the same meaning, but they may differ in non-classical mathematics. The difference is explained on Wikipedia.

I believe you wouldn't mind calling cows inhabitants, would you?


In French we use the term "habitation" to express a type which is not empty, i.e., a type for which there is some element of that type. I suggest the same thing in English. Either a set is empty or inhabited.


I believed this has to be discussed for every example,
but for the cow field, occupied could work.

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