[ fur-tl or, especially British, -tahyl ]
See synonyms for fertile on Thesaurus.com
  1. bearing, producing, or capable of producing vegetation, crops, etc., abundantly; prolific: fertile soil.

  2. bearing or capable of bearing offspring.

  1. abundantly productive: a fertile imagination.

  2. producing an abundance (usually followed by of or in): a land fertile of wheat.

  3. conducive to productiveness: fertile showers.

  4. Biology.

    • fertilized, as an egg or ovum; fecundated.

    • capable of growth or development, as seeds or eggs.

  5. Botany.

    • capable of producing sexual reproductive structures.

    • capable of causing fertilization, as an anther with fully developed pollen.

    • having spore-bearing organs, as a frond.

  6. Physics. (of a nuclide) capable of being transmuted into a fissile nuclide by irradiation with neutrons: Uranium 238 and thorium 232 are fertile nuclides.: Compare fissile (def. 2).

  7. produced in abundance.

Origin of fertile

First recorded in 1425–75; late Middle English (from Middle French ), from Latin fertilis “fruitful,” akin to ferre “to bear”; see bear1, -ile

synonym study For fertile

1-3. See productive.

Other words for fertile

Opposites for fertile

Other words from fertile

  • fer·tile·ly, adverb
  • fer·tile·ness, noun
  • half-fertile, adjective
  • half-fer·tile·ly, adverb
  • half-fer·tile·ness, noun
  • non·fer·tile, adjective
  • o·ver·fer·tile, adjective
  • pre·fer·tile, adjective
  • un·fer·tile, adjective

Words Nearby fertile

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use fertile in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for fertile


/ (ˈfɜːtaɪl) /

  1. capable of producing offspring

    • (of land) having nutrients capable of sustaining an abundant growth of plants

    • (of farm animals) capable of breeding stock

  1. biology

    • capable of undergoing growth and development: fertile seeds; fertile eggs

    • (of plants) capable of producing gametes, spores, seeds, or fruits

  2. producing many offspring; prolific

  3. highly productive; rich; abundant: a fertile brain

  4. physics (of a substance) able to be transformed into fissile or fissionable material, esp in a nuclear reactor

  5. conducive to productiveness: fertile rain

Origin of fertile

C15: from Latin fertilis, from ferre to bear

Derived forms of fertile

  • fertilely, adverb
  • fertileness, noun

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

Scientific definitions for fertile


[ fûrtl ]

  1. Capable of producing offspring, seeds, or fruit.

  2. Capable of developing into a complete organism; fertilized.

  1. Capable of supporting plant life; favorable to the growth of crops and plants.

Other words from fertile

  • fertility noun

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.