Definitions

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

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, from Latin sterilis.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin sterilis ("barren, futile"). See also Ancient Greek στεῖρα (steira). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • For starters, he's put off by what he calls the sterile look of modern evangelical churches.

    Latest Articles

  • It feels sterile to me but sterile is better in my view than some crime-ridden shithole.

    Archive 2009-04-01

  • His hands touched the tools, glanced off the handle of a modified bone-saw that lay with its harsh circular blade submerged in sterile solution.

    365 tomorrows » 2009 » September : A New Free Flash Fiction SciFi Story Every Day

  • I agree with the first name basis – many companies foister this as a way of making people feel they are part of the “Team” – but too often business relationships remain sterile first name or not.

    FOCUS • by Oonah V Joslin

  • Unlike the market-driven art featured in sterile, white box galleries, the work of Tokodi is meant to be touched, felt, and in turn touch you in the playful ways that her animated installations call to mind a more familiar, environmentally friendly state in the barren patches of urban existence.

    CLEAN GREEN LIVING GRAFFITI made from moss! | Inhabitat

  • Burn victims, isolated in sterile rooms, later wincing in therapy as they learn to use their hands again, working through the pain.

    Archive 2007-07-01

  • Loosely wrap the areas in sterile bandages and reach medical help.

    Worst Case Scenario - Frostbite

  • Great posts and, yes, RSS feeds are largely sterile from a community standpoint.

    Why I hate RSS readers « Squash

  • An all-but-irrelevant General Assembly usually engaged in sterile debate, wasting time, passing pointless resolutions on an agenda that just doesn't relate to the problems of the millions of real people with urgent needs thousands of miles away from the comforts of the General Assembly and New York City.

    The United Nations at a Crossroads

  • After cooking time ends, let the can cool before opening and empty contents in sterile jar.

    Mr. C's Dulce De Leche Flapjacks

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.