sterile

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

Definition of sterile

1a : failing to bear or incapable of producing fruit or spores
b : 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
2a : unproductive of vegetation a sterile arid region
b : free from living organisms and especially pathogenic microorganisms a sterile syringe
c : lacking in stimulating emotional or intellectual quality : lifeless a sterile work of art

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Other Words from sterile

sterilely \ ˈster-​ə(l)-​lē , chiefly British  -​ˌī(-​ə)(l)-​lē \ adverb
sterility \ stə-​ˈri-​lə-​tē \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for sterile

Synonyms

barren, fruitless, impotent, infertile, unfruitful

Antonyms

fat, fertile, fruitful

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Examples of sterile in a Sentence

a sterile dressing for a wound sterile couples sometimes choose to adopt needy children

Recent Examples on the Web

Plenty of wasteland stories are still waiting to be told, but these sterile tapes and notes aren't replacements for past series personalities like Fallout 4's synth private detective Nick Valentine or Fallout 3's radio DJ Three Dog. Sarah Leboeuf, Ars Technica, "Fallout 76 is online and lonelier than ever," 15 Nov. 2018 Thus, once this gene-drive construct starts to spread, every mosquito is likely to either spread it further or be sterile. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Gene drive used to turn all female mosquitos sterile," 27 Sep. 2018 Carol Leonard’s family says the hospital failed to provide a safe, sterile operating room and should have responded more quickly when her surgical wound became infected. Peter Jamison, Washington Post, "Sewage and water leaks in hospital operating rooms cited in lawsuit over patient’s death," 2 Apr. 2018 Or perhaps a single, large table in a sterile, modern room with fluorescent lights? Kelsey Kloss, ELLE Decor, "A Coworking Space Just Opened In Montreal's Royal Bank Tower," 23 Sep. 2016 The egg and sperm mixture is placed inside an inner chamber made of sterile and gas-permeable materials: medical-grade polystyrene and synthetic rubber latex/thermoplastic elastomer and a silicone o-ring, according to INVOcell’s website. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "These Two Women Both ‘Carried’ Their Baby Using Reciprocal Effortless IVF," 16 Nov. 2018 Manual exfoliation using a sterile blade to gently shave off dead skin cells from the epidermis. Jessica Defino, Marie Claire, "I Got My Face Shaved With a Scalpel in the Name of Smooth Skin," 11 Sep. 2018 Flies seem to tolerate the loss of Artemis better, but when it's eliminated, all the females end up sterile. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "A battle between the sexes in a single gene," 23 Feb. 2018 Load your pot with a sterile potting mix, or try this one from V. J. Billings, owner of Mountain Valley Growers organic nursery: Mix approximately 60% peat moss with 40% perlite, with a couple of handfuls of homemade compost thrown in. Therese Ciesinski, Good Housekeeping, "How to Grow Lavender Anywhere — Even Indoors," 9 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sterile.' 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 sterile

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

History and Etymology for sterile

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

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Statistics for sterile

Last Updated

9 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for sterile

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

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More Definitions for sterile

sterile

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of sterile

: not able to produce crops or plants

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

: not able to grow or develop

sterile

adjective
ster·​ile | \ ˈster-əl \

Kids Definition of sterile

1 : not able to produce fruit, crops, or offspring : not fertile sterile soil
2 : free from living germs a sterile bandage

sterile

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

Medical Definition of sterile

1 : failing to produce or incapable of producing offspring a sterile hybrid — compare infertile
2 : free from living organisms and especially microorganisms a sterile syringe a sterile cyst

Other Words from sterile

sterilely \ -​əl-​(l)ē \ adverb
sterility \ stə-​ˈril-​ət-​ē \ noun, plural -ties

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