from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Not producing or incapable of producing offspring.
  • adj. Not producing or incapable of producing seed, fruit spores, or other reproductive structures. Used of plants or their parts.
  • adj. Producing little or no vegetation; unfruitful: sterile land.
  • adj. Free from live bacteria or other microorganisms: a sterile operating area; sterile instruments.
  • adj. Lacking imagination, creativity, or vitality.
  • adj. Lacking the power to function; not productive or effective; fruitless: a sterile discussion.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Unable to reproduce (or procreate).
  • adj. Unprofitable.
  • adj. Germless; free from all living or viable microorganisms.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Producing little or no crop; barren; unfruitful; unproductive; not fertile.
  • adj.
  • adj. Incapable of reproduction; unfitted for reproduction of offspring; not able to germinate or bear fruit; unfruitful.
  • adj. Free from reproductive spores or germs.
  • adj. Fig.: Barren of ideas; destitute of sentiment.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Unfruitful; unproductive; not fertile.
  • Barren; not reproducing its kind.
  • In botany, of a flower, producing only stamens—that is, staminate or male (compare neutral); of a stamen, having no anther, or a functionless one; of an anther, without pollen; of an ovary, without perfect seeds; of a seed, without an embryo; of a frond, without sori. See cuts under Onoclea, Ophioglossum, sassafras, and smoke-tree.
  • Free from living germs.
  • Leading to no results; fruitless; profitless; useless.
  • Lacking richness of thought or expression; bald; bare: as, a sterile style; sterile verse.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. free of or using methods to keep free of pathological microorganisms
  • adj. deficient in originality or creativity; lacking powers of invention
  • adj. incapable of reproducing


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English, from Old French, from Latin sterilis.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin sterilis ("barren, futile"). See also Ancient Greek στεῖρα (steira).


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