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

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

High-concept, high-craft Plenty more happens in The Guilty, all from this sterile-looking call center: Asger tries coordinating police chases to snag suspect vehicles. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "The Guilty review: Even in 2018, a simple phone can be utterly thrilling," 21 Oct. 2018 Comparisons to Alex Garland’s Ex Machina are inevitable: both feature predatory men holding women hostage in hermetic, high-tech, gorgeously sterile homes, with other women standing by as implacable assistants. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "Elizabeth Harvest is a high-tech, twist-packed take on the Bluebeard myth," 17 Mar. 2018 Generally much larger than either parent, these usually sterile animals are among some of the biggest in the world, weighing over 1,000 pounds and sometimes measuring 12 feet long. Olivia Putnal, Woman's Day, "10 Unusual Animal Hybrids," 21 Sep. 2010 The sterile neutrinos can, however, participate in flavor oscillations. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Weird neutrino excess won’t go away, hints at new physics," 8 June 2018 The team suggested that the μ antineutrinos could be morphing into sterile neutrinos, which in turn morphed into electron antineutrinos. Adrian Cho, Science | AAAS, "Reports of sterile neutrino’s resurrection may be greatly exaggerated," 4 June 2018 His office was tidy to the point of seeming sterile. Annie Correal, New York Times, "What Drove a Man to Set Himself on Fire in Brooklyn?," 28 May 2018 The animal is 25 to 30 percent heavier than your typical Mongolian cattle, and while these beasts of burden are sterile, their meat is considered far superior to that of either of their parents. Olivia Putnal, Woman's Day, "10 Unusual Animal Hybrids," 21 Sep. 2010

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

1 May 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 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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