sterile

adjective
ster·​ile | \ ˈster-əl How to pronounce sterile (audio) , 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 How to pronounce sterilely (audio) , chiefly British  -​ˌī(-​ə)(l)-​lē \ adverb
sterility \ stə-​ˈri-​lə-​tē How to pronounce sterility (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for sterile

Synonyms

Antonyms

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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 The new location is more a fast-casual café than an eat-in restaurant, with just a handful of tables in a bright, slightly sterile but gleamingly clean dining room. Anchorage Daily News, "Bombay South offers solid comfort food to beat that late-autumn slump," 6 Nov. 2019 Here's to you Mario, a rare free spirit in an increasingly sterile sport. SI.com, "Remembering the Lineup of the Last Liverpool Side to Lose at Home in the Champions League," 6 Nov. 2019 Most indoor gardeners repot in sterile soil because garden soil harbors pests. Bonnie Blodgett, Twin Cities, "Bonnie Blodgett: As the inside season arrives, here are some tips to help us all get along," 2 Nov. 2019 Miners churn through the same stretch of river many times, turning the banks, riverbed, and environs into sterile pits and ten-foot rock piles. Nell Zink, Harper's magazine, "The Bird Angle," 28 Oct. 2019 Many in eastern India take pride in the beauty of the winglike extensions of the sterile lemma in Moynatundi and Ramigali rice. Debal Deb, Scientific American, "The Struggle to Save Heirloom Rice in India," 16 Oct. 2019 The hospital’s chief medical officer, Brad Spellberg, said the facility’s central sterile processing room has suffered severe water damage and mold contamination. San Diego Union-Tribune, "LA hospital puts some surgeries on hold after mold found," 26 Sep. 2019 On a recent morning in Chicago, Giulianotti, who looks a little like Arnold Schwarzenegger with white hair, put on a sterile gown and cap, covered his craggy face with a surgeon’s mask, and entered an operating room. D. T. Max, The New Yorker, "Paging Dr. Robot," 23 Sep. 2019 But don't expect to see only sterile, industrial surfaces like in space stations depicted in movies. Jessica Puckett, Condé Nast Traveler, "What Spending a Night at a Space Hotel Looks Like," 6 Sep. 2019

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

13 Nov 2019

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
How to pronounce sterile (audio)

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 How to pronounce sterile (audio) \

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 How to pronounce sterilely (audio) \ adverb
sterility \ stə-​ˈril-​ət-​ē How to pronounce sterility (audio) \ noun, plural sterilities

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