fer·tile | \ˈfər-tᵊl, chiefly British -ˌtī(-ə)l \

Definition of fertile 

1a : 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

2a(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

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Other Words from fertile

fertilely \ˈfər-tᵊl-(l)ē \ adverb
fertileness \ˈfər-tᵊl-nəs \ 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

Examples of fertile in a Sentence

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

If more farmers start taking climate risks seriously, a surge of subdivisions could start sprawling across some of the most fertile farmland on the planet. Nathanael Johnson, WIRED, "Are Avocados Toast?," 24 May 2018 Today, the river is six miles away - across some of the most fertile farmland in the world - and kept there by a levee wall. The Washington Post, NOLA.com, "Taming the mighty Mississippi: Troubles run deep in changing national waterway," 17 Mar. 2018 Estes helped the vet identify pregnant targets—ideal specimens for the experiment, since they were guaranteed to be fertile. Ryan P. Smith, Smithsonian, "How Noisy Males Control the Gnu’s Cycle," 11 July 2018 The geopolitical conditions are fertile for the new approach to take hold. Eliana Rudee, Jewish Journal, "Palestinian and Israeli writers team up in new policy book," 26 June 2018 Of the 25 eggs laid this year, only 12 were fertile and only 5 of those survived the incubation process, which takes nearly one month. National Geographic, "What Does It Take to Raise a Flamingo?," 25 June 2018 Thus, the ground was fertile for an antiestablishment candidate in 1998. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "Venezuela’s Long Road to Hell," 10 June 2018 Two eggs did not hatch this year but those eggs were retrieved and didn't appear to be fertile from the get go. Laura James-reim, Indianapolis Star, "After banding, young falcons start to test their wings," 6 June 2018 Though the market may be fertile now, once more than a handful of companies begin flying, most other ventures will probably fail. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "With a simple and cheap rocket, Virgin Orbit aims for the extraordinary," 4 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of fertile

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

History and Etymology for fertile

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

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Phrases Related to fertile

fertile soil

Statistics for fertile

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for fertile

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

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More Definitions for fertile



English Language Learners Definition of fertile

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

: producing a large amount of something

: producing many ideas


fer·tile | \ˈfər-tᵊl \

Kids Definition of fertile

1 : producing many plants or crops fertile fields

2 : producing many ideas a fertile mind

3 : capable of developing and growing a fertile egg


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

3a : capable of breeding or reproducing

b of an estrous cycle : marked by the production of one or more viable eggs

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Comments on fertile

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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