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verb (used with object), fer·ti·lized, fer·ti·liz·ing.
  1. Biology.
    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).
  2. to make fertile; enrich: to fertilize farmland.
  3. to make productive.
Also especially British, fer·ti·lise.

Origin of fertilize

First recorded in 1640–50; fertile + -ize
Related formsfer·ti·liz·a·ble, adjectivefer·ti·liz·a·bil·i·ty, nouno·ver·fer·ti·lize, verb (used with object), o·ver·fer·ti·lized, o·ver·fer·ti·liz·ing.pre·fer·ti·lize, verb (used with object), pre·fer·ti·lized, pre·fer·ti·liz·ing.re·fer·ti·liz·a·ble, adjectivere·fer·ti·lize, verb (used with object), re·fer·ti·lized, re·fer·ti·liz·ing.un·fer·ti·liz·a·ble, adjectiveun·fer·ti·lized, adjectiveun·fer·ti·liz·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for fertilize



verb (tr)
  1. to provide (an animal, plant, or egg cell) with sperm or pollen to bring about fertilization
  2. to supply (soil or water) with mineral and organic nutrients to aid the growth of plants
  3. to make fertile or productive
Derived Formsfertilizable or 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

Word Origin and History for fertilize

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

fertilize in Science


  1. The process by which two gametes (reproductive cells having a single, haploid set of chromosomes) fuse to become a zygote, which develops into a new organism. The resultant zygote is diploid (it has two sets of chromosomes). In cross-fertilization, the two gametes come from two different individual organisms. In self-fertilization, the gametes come from the same individual. Fertilization includes the union of the cytoplasm of the gametes (called plasmogamy) followed by the union of the nuclei of the two gametes (called karyogamy). Among many animals, such as mammals, fertilization occurs inside the body of the female. Among fish, eggs are fertilized in the water. Among plants, fertilization of eggs occurs within the reproductive structures of the parent plant, such as the ovules of gymnosperms and angiosperms. See Note at pollination.
  2. The process of making soil more productive of plant growth, as by the addition of organic material or fertilizer.
Related formsfertilize verb
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.