adjective fer·tile \ ˈfər-tᵊl , chiefly British -ˌtī(-ə)l \
Updated on: 8 Nov 2017

Definition of fertile

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 fungi
  • Consumer 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


play \ˈfər-tᵊl-(l)ē\ adverb


play \ˈfər-tᵊl-nəs\ noun

Examples of fertile in a Sentence

  1. an area that is a fertile breeding ground for political extremism

  2. This subject remains a fertile field for additional investigation.

  3. He has a fertile mind.

Recent Examples of fertile from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of fertile

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

Other Agriculture/Gardening Terms

FERTILE Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of fertile for English Language Learners

  • : producing many plants or crops : able to support the growth of many plants

  • : producing a large amount of something

  • : producing many ideas

FERTILE Defined for Kids


adjective fer·tile \ ˈfər-tᵊl \

Definition of fertile for Students

1 :producing many plants or crops
  • fertile fields
2 :producing many ideas
  • a fertile mind
3 :capable of developing and growing
  • a fertile egg

Medical Dictionary


adjective fer·tile \ ˈfərt-ᵊl, chiefly British ˈfər-ˌtīl \

medical Definition of fertile

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

Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


a blind with adjustable horizontal slats

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!