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[fur-tl-ahyz] /ˈfɜr tlˌaɪz/
verb (used with object), fertilized, fertilizing.
  1. to render (the female gamete) capable of development by uniting it with the male gamete.
  2. to fecundate or impregnate (an animal or plant).
to make fertile; enrich:
to fertilize farmland.
to make productive.
Also, especially British, fertilise.
Origin of fertilize
First recorded in 1640-50; fertile + -ize
Related forms
fertilizable, adjective
fertilizability, noun
overfertilize, verb (used with object), overfertilized, overfertilizing.
prefertilize, verb (used with object), prefertilized, prefertilizing.
refertilizable, adjective
refertilize, verb (used with object), refertilized, refertilizing.
unfertilizable, adjective
unfertilized, adjective
unfertilizing, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for fertilise
Historical Examples
  • It seems evident that their sole function is to fertilise the female.

    The Truth About Woman C. Gasquoine Hartley
  • But dawn has power to fertilise the most matter-of-fact vision, and he was stirred.

    The Forsyte Saga, Complete John Galsworthy
  • The seed, taken in any quantity from it, does not fertilise a new cultivation.

    Louis Pasteur Ren Vallery-Radot
  • There should be no fresh stanza and no stop after 'fertilise.'

  • The ashes of this conflagration may fertilise anew the whole earth.

    The Soul of Susan Yellam

    Horace Annesley Vachell
  • The stream flowed underground which was yet to fertilise the modern world.

    Edward Caldwell Moore Edward Moore
  • Though impalement is a form of capital punishment, probably the girl's blood was expected to fertilise the earth.

    Magic and Religion Andrew Lang
  • Few insects remain, apparently, adapted to fertilise it and it cannot fertilise itself.

    The Woodlands Orchids Frederick Boyle
  • Numerous other streams and rivulets meander through the whole country, and fertilise every vale.

    The Circassian Chief W.H.G. Kingston
  • But if strong colonies of bees are close at hand, they will rarely fail to fertilise some blossoms.

British Dictionary definitions for fertilise


verb (transitive)
to provide (an animal, plant, or egg cell) with sperm or pollen to bring about fertilization
to supply (soil or water) with mineral and organic nutrients to aid the growth of plants
to make fertile or productive
Derived Forms
fertilizable, fertilisable, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for fertilise



1640s, "make fertile;" see fertile + -ize. Its biological sense of "unite with an egg cell" is first recorded 1859. Related: Fertilized; fertilizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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