Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

sterile

play
adjective ster·ile \ˈster-əl, chiefly British -ˌī(-ə)l\

Simple Definition of sterile

  • : not able to produce crops or plants

  • : not able to produce children, young animals, etc.

  • : not able to grow or develop

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of sterile

  1. 1a :  failing to bear or incapable of producing fruit or sporesb :  failing to produce or incapable of producing offspring <a sterile hybrid>c :  incapable of germinating <sterile spores>d of a flower :  neither perfect nor pistillate

  2. 2a :  unproductive of vegetation <a sterile arid region>b :  free from living organisms and especially microorganisms <a sterile syringe>c :  lacking in stimulating emotional or intellectual quality :  lifeless <a sterile work of art>

sterilely play \-ə(l)-lē\ adverb
sterility play \stə-ˈri-lə-tē\ noun

Examples of sterile in a sentence

  1. a sterile dressing for a wound

  2. <sterile couples sometimes choose to adopt needy children>



Origin of sterile

Middle English steryle, from Latin sterilis; akin to Gothic stairo barren animal, Sanskrit starī sterile cow


First Known Use: 15th century

Other Microbiology Terms

Rhymes with sterile


STERILE Defined for Kids

sterile

play
adjective ster·ile \ˈster-əl\

Definition of sterile for Students

  1. 1 :  not able to produce fruit, crops, or offspring :  not fertile <sterile soil>

  2. 2 :  free from living germs <a sterile bandage>




Medical Dictionary

sterile

play play
adjective ster·ile \ˈster-əl, chiefly British -ˌīl\

Medical Definition of sterile

  1. 1:  failing to produce or incapable of producing offspring <a sterile hybrid>—compare infertile

  2. 2:  free from living organisms and especially microorganisms <a sterile syringe> <a sterile cyst>

sterilely \-əl-(l)ē\play adverb
sterility \stə-ˈril-ət-ē\play noun plural sterilities




Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up sterile? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to work hard

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image567572573

Which of these is a synonym of unctuous?

angry maudlin oily prompt
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ