[fur-tl or, esp. British, -tahyl]


Origin of fertile

1425–75; late Middle English (< Middle French) < Latin fertilis fruitful, akin to ferre to bear1; see -ile
Related formsfer·tile·ly, adverbfer·tile·ness, nounhalf-fer·tile, adjectivehalf-fer·tile·ly, adverbhalf-fer·tile·ness, nounnon·fer·tile, adjectiveo·ver·fer·tile, adjectivepre·fer·tile, adjectiveun·fer·tile, adjective

Synonyms for fertile

1–3. fecund, teeming. See productive.

Antonyms for fertile

1–3. sterile, barren.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for fertile

Contemporary Examples of fertile

Historical Examples of fertile

British Dictionary definitions for fertile



capable of producing offspring
  1. (of land) having nutrients capable of sustaining an abundant growth of plants
  2. (of farm animals) capable of breeding stock
  1. capable of undergoing growth and developmentfertile seeds; fertile eggs
  2. (of plants) capable of producing gametes, spores, seeds, or fruits
producing many offspring; prolific
highly productive; rich; abundanta fertile brain
physics (of a substance) able to be transformed into fissile or fissionable material, esp in a nuclear reactor
conducive to productivenessfertile rain
Derived Formsfertilely, adverbfertileness, noun

Word Origin for fertile

C15: from Latin fertilis, from ferre to bear
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

Word Origin and History for fertile

mid-15c., from Middle French fertil and directly from Latin fertilis "bearing in abundance, fruitful, productive," from ferre "to bear" (see infer). Fertile Crescent (1914) was coined by U.S. archaeologist James H. Breasted (1865-1935).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

fertile in Medicine




Capable of conceiving and bearing young.
Fertilized. Used of an ovum.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

fertile in Science



Capable of producing offspring, seeds, or fruit.
Capable of developing into a complete organism; fertilized.
Capable of supporting plant life; favorable to the growth of crops and plants.
Related formsfertility noun
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.