fertile

adjective

fer·​tile ˈfər-tᵊl How to pronounce fertile (audio)
chiefly British
-ˌtī(-ə)l How to pronounce fertile (audio)
1
a
: producing or bearing many crops in great quantities : productive
fertile fields of corn and oats
b
: characterized by great resourcefulness of thought or imagination : inventive
a fertile mind
c
obsolete : plentiful
2
a(1)
: capable of sustaining abundant plant growth
fertile soil
(2)
: affording abundant possibilities for growth or development
damp bathrooms are fertile ground for fungiConsumer Reports
a fertile area for research
b
: capable of growing or developing
a fertile egg
c(1)
: capable of producing fruit
fertile trees
(2)
of an anther : containing pollen
(3)
: developing spores or spore-bearing organs
d
: capable of breeding or reproducing
3
: capable of being converted into fissionable material
fertile uranium 238
fertilely adverb
fertileness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for fertile

fertile, fecund, fruitful, prolific mean producing or capable of producing offspring or fruit.

fertile implies the power to reproduce in kind or to assist in reproduction and growth

fertile soil

; applied figuratively, it suggests readiness of invention and development.

a fertile imagination

fecund emphasizes abundance or rapidity in bearing fruit or offspring.

a fecund herd

fruitful adds to fertile and fecund the implication of desirable or useful results.

fruitful research

prolific stresses rapidity of spreading or multiplying by or as if by natural reproduction.

a prolific writer

Example Sentences

an area that is a fertile breeding ground for political extremism This subject remains a fertile field for additional investigation. He has a fertile mind.
Recent Examples on the Web The program is located in one of the most fertile recruiting areas in the country and has been among the most successful in the FBS in tapping into the portal, with another handful of additions already arriving on campus for winter conditioning. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, 10 Jan. 2023 And having a presence in one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country wouldn’t hurt those conferences’ schools, either. Dallas News, 7 July 2022 The Imperial Valley is one of the most fertile places in the country. Sammy Rothstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 16 June 2022 This transition involves much more than technology investments toward a carbon–neutral society and a fertile policy space. Time, 12 Jan. 2023 RaMell, what made Hale County such fertile terrain? Siddhartha Mitter, New York Times, 12 Jan. 2023 Lee suggests that having state legislatures appoint alternate electors would be more fertile ground and key for getting his colleagues to sign on. Bryan Schott, The Salt Lake Tribune, 4 Jan. 2023 But the United States seems to provide an especially fertile environment for smart people with good ideas. Rodger Dean Duncan, Forbes, 20 Dec. 2022 Taking cues from Tuscany, the property is set on an original Roman road and surrounded by lush, fertile grounds. Abby Montanez, Robb Report, 18 Dec. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fertile.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, from Latin fertilis, from ferre to carry, bear — more at bear

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of fertile was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near fertile

Cite this Entry

“Fertile.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fertile. Accessed 8 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

fertile

adjective
fer·​tile ˈfərt-ᵊl How to pronounce fertile (audio)
1
: producing vegetation or crops plentifully : rich
fertile farmland
2
: producing thoughts and ideas abundantly
a fertile mind
3
a
: capable of growing and developing
a fertile seed
b
: capable of reproducing or of producing reproductive cells
a fertile bull
fertile fungal hyphae
fertility
(ˌ)fər-ˈtil-ət-ē
noun

Medical Definition

fertile

adjective
fer·​tile
ˈfərt-ᵊl, chiefly British ˈfər-ˌtīl
1
: capable of growing or developing
fertile egg
2
: developing spores or spore-bearing organs
3
a
: capable of breeding or reproducing
b
of an estrous cycle : marked by the production of one or more viable eggs

More from Merriam-Webster on fertile

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