sterile

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

Definition of sterile

1 a :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
2 a :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

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

Recent Examples of sterile from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of sterile

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

Other Microbiology Terms


STERILE Defined for English Language Learners

sterile

adjective

Definition of sterile for English Language Learners

  • : not able to produce crops or plants

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

  • : not able to grow or develop


STERILE Defined for Kids

sterile

adjective ster·ile \ ˈster-əl \

Definition of sterile for Students

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

Medical Dictionary

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

sterilely

play \-əl-(l)ē\ adverb

sterility

play \stə-ˈril-ət-ē\ noun plural -ties


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