After running a certain operation a value is taken from field A to field B. After the operation field A is empty. Is there a word or better phrase for this?

During the operation field A _________ [becomes empty].

  • 41
    Empties is a word which means becomes empty.
    – DRF
    Mar 6, 2017 at 13:50
  • 5
    This sounds like it's at least somewhat technical, so there may be a better word or phrase relevant to the specific context. For example, if you're talking about a database, it makes more sense to say that the field becomes "null" rather than becomes "empty"; if you're talking about Java, "empty" only really makes sense when talking about a collection; etc. Mar 6, 2017 at 16:09
  • 1
    Empty is one of the words that has a stative adjective form (The pot is empty), an inchoative verbal form (That pot empties fast), and a causative verbal form (He emptied that pot slowly) that all have the same shape. Unlike, for instance, full, which is only an adjective, but has related inchoative (The pot filled) and causative (He filled the pot). Or dead, which has a related inchoative die, and an unrelated causative kill. Zero derivation is quite common. Mar 6, 2017 at 16:13
  • 1
    Since you're talking about a move, the contents of A become undefined, because there's still something in it, even if only random bits. It's not empty in the sense that a bottle can be empty of, e.g., beer.
    – MMacD
    Mar 6, 2017 at 18:36
  • 1
    Can you clarify if you are talking about a computer function here... given the wide range of answers it may mean your question is too broad.
    – Skooba
    Mar 6, 2017 at 19:02

13 Answers 13


Andrew Leach is right in saying is emptied is better than empties here.

However, for your particular example, I’d suggest:

During the operation field a is cleared.

When relating to GUIs, it’s a much more common way of expressing that the content has been removed from an input field.

  • 2
    For additional support on the fact that 'clear' is the best fit for talking about GUI's, Google 'clear a field' and 'empty a field'. You'll find that 'clear a field' returns more results that are programming-related, and that the first SO result for 'empty a field' has a top, accepted answer that uses the verb 'clear' instead of 'empty'. Clear is definitely the word when talking about GUI in a programming context. (SO question reference: stackoverflow.com/questions/9236332/…)
    – Jeutnarg
    Mar 6, 2017 at 17:27
  • I would have used "is reset". Still not one word though.
    – Mr Lister
    Mar 7, 2017 at 9:34
  • cant "clears" be used the same way as empties?
    – montelof
    Mar 7, 2017 at 15:21
  • 1
    @MrLister Reset carries a slightly different meaning though. If the field has a non-blank/non-null default value, I would take reset to mean that this default value was restored. Whereas clear always means that the field is made blank/null, aka empty. Mar 7, 2017 at 15:52
  • 2
    Notice that the absolutely best approach would be to "Avoid passive voice" and write: "This operation clears field A." Mar 8, 2017 at 1:42

The verb empty can be transitive or intransitive.

[with object] Remove all the contents of (a container)
[no object] (of a place) be vacated by people in it


Thus, the field empties.

Usually, though, where something happens as a result of something else (like a value being taken from a place), the action of an agent is implied by using the passive voice, is emptied.


Another word when used as a verb may be,


  • 1.1 - Cause or allow (liquid) to run off or out of something.
  • 2.1 - Cause (a valuable resource) to be lost or used up.
  • Example 1: The pond was drained of all the water.
  • Example 2: The thief was caught draining all the funds from my account.
  • Example 3: Playing football drains my energy quickly.
  • 2
    In the question though, it is not a liquid or resource that is being removed. Mar 6, 2017 at 22:14

How about depleted?

During the operation field A is depleted.


  1. to empty of a principal substance. The lake was depleted of water. Depleting the country of its natural resources.
  2. to lessen markedly in quantity, content, power, or value. Deplete our life savings. Their depleted resources.
  • It is vanishingly rare to hear about a character array or string which becomes empty to be said to be "depleted of characters". Anyway "is depleted" is two words. "becomes empty" is already two words.
    – Kaz
    Mar 7, 2017 at 22:28

This sounds like a computer operation.

Depending on the type of variable, one possibility might be nullify. This wouldn't apply to scalar fields (which can't be set to null).

Per https://ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=nullify:

  1. To make null; invalidate.

The word vacate could also work, in the form is vacated:

During the operation field A is vacated.


If it is computer-related, one other option for a GUI field is blanked.

  • 2
    We are looking for answers that provide some context on why they are correct ideally with citations. As is stands, this answer may be removed.
    – Skooba
    Mar 7, 2017 at 14:00
  • 1
    This answer shouldn't be removed, it's got the important fact that this is computing jargon, not everyday English, and in that specialist domain this is common knowledge. Do you really want extracts from (say) the PostgreSQL documentation? Two similar jargon terms are voided and nulled. The differences are most important to a programmer. A non-programmer (i.e. "user") quite likely won't understand any differences and a programmer will need to know precisely what context (programming language or system) the terms relate to.
    – nigel222
    Mar 7, 2017 at 16:57
  • "is blanked" is two words, just like the original "becomes empty". You can rescue this usage by swiching to active voice: the field blanks. The verb to blank works as an intransitive. It is reasonably clear that this means that the field spontaneously lapses to a blank value. Switch to this and you have a winner here.
    – Kaz
    Mar 7, 2017 at 22:27
  • @Kaz I see you make the same remark on multiple answers and while I understand why you're doing it, the fact is that OP has accepted an answer that also consists of two words. Furthermore, in the computer GUI sense I'm talking about, the verb is always used passively since the software behind it is doing the blanking, not the field itself.
    – Falc
    Mar 7, 2017 at 23:14
  • @Falc In fact, the original "becomes empty" is perfectly sensible.
    – Kaz
    Mar 8, 2017 at 1:04

During the operation field A was voided.

At Oxford Dictionaries’ online site we read for void:

  1. Discharge or drain away (water, gases, etc.) ‘the gases are usually voided into the mechanism’ More example sentences

    2.2 usually as adjective voided Empty or evacuate (a container or space) ‘a fully voided core assembly’


This sounds like a computer operation.

Depending on the context, one possibility is initialized. This is typically used when the value of a variable is set to an initial value in order to be ready for use, especially the case with object variables for which existing state is cleared in the process of preparing for new use.

From the original question, it seems like some sort of move operation is taking place, which is typically not a single operation in a computer sense. Such an operation would typically involve a copy of a value from field A to B, then a modification of state of field A. These steps might be encapsulated within a function. Thus the way that the 'emptying' takes place is specific to the implementation of the function, and the data type of variable whose state is being modified. I.e. the meaning of 'empty' is semantic.

Per https://ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=initialized:

  1. To set (a starting value of a variable).
  • 1
    this would only apply if emptiness were the initial value, which it may or may not have been. Assuming it was, then "re-initialize" would be more appropriate, but if the initial value was not empty, this wouldn't be right at all
    – chiliNUT
    Mar 6, 2017 at 23:15

During the operaion, field A is invalidated

This is an indicator that the previous value no longer applies, and was "blanked out" for being obsolete.

  • This is a technical term, not jargon. Nonetheless, it may be too specific for your needs. Mar 6, 2017 at 23:18
  • "is invalidated" is two words; OP already has two words, namely "becomes empty", and is looking for one word. The verb to invalidate introduces unwanted interpretations; it has connotations of a value becoming not valid. Perhaps a blank value is perfectly valid.
    – Kaz
    Mar 7, 2017 at 22:25
  • I would understand this to mean that field A's value is no longer valid (for whatever reason), but not that the value is changed or removed. As a contrived example, if B was a choice between "Shape or Colour", and A had a value of "Round", changing B to "Colour" would invalidate the value of "Round".
    – Beejamin
    Mar 8, 2017 at 11:37
  • OP specifically asked for a word or phrase. I assumed he was looking for the best way to express the concept, not a compact way. Mar 9, 2017 at 16:19

During the operation field a becomes diminished.


During the operation field a diminishes.

This is simply a synonym for empty, like Andrew Leach already said, the word empty can be used as both a transitive and intransitive verb so you would be fine to say:

During the operation field a empties. (intransitive)


During the operation field a empties itself. (transitive)

  • 5
    Your example sentences suggest that field A gets smaller. This in no way implies that there was something in field A, and now there is not. Mar 6, 2017 at 17:52
  • That's if your speaking in a purely literal sense, but perhaps the OP may be looking for a slightly metaphorical usage which can be applied to a broader scenario.
    – Jalapeno
    Mar 6, 2017 at 22:12
  • 1
    I don't agree that 'diminished' is a synonym for 'empty' - in fact, in this context I would understand this to mean that the diminished value was less, or smaller, but not nothing.
    – Beejamin
    Mar 8, 2017 at 11:34

In comments, John Lawler wrote something that is important enough that it should be searchable here, so I am installing it as a "Community Wiki" answer:

Empty is one of the words that has a stative adjective form (The pot is empty), an inchoative verbal form (That pot empties fast), and a causative verbal form (He emptied that pot slowly) that all have the same shape. Unlike, for instance, full, which is only an adjective, but has related inchoative (The pot filled) and causative (He filled the pot). Or dead, which has a related inchoative die, and an unrelated causative kill. Zero derivation is quite common.


The sentence may be written as:

During the operation field A is unoccupied.

or it may be like this:

During the operation field A is exhausted.


During the operation field A is expended.

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