any substance used to fertilize the soil, especially a commercial or chemical manure.
a person, insect, etc., that fertilizes an animal or plant: Bees are fertilizers of flowers.

Origin of fertilizer

First recorded in 1655–65; fertilize + -er1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for fertilizer

manure, mulch, dung, compost, maul, guano, humus, potash

Examples from the Web for fertilizer

Contemporary Examples of fertilizer

Historical Examples of fertilizer

  • From it we get the whalebone, oil and also a fertilizer to help our farm crops to grow.

    Where We Live

    Emilie Van Beil Jacobs

  • Alfred stood at the window with the canvas containing the mass of fertilizer.

  • The menhaden-catch of the North Atlantic is converted into fertilizer.

    Commercial Geography

    Jacques W. Redway

  • Fertilizer manufactured from the refuse is an incidental product.

    Commercial Geography

    Jacques W. Redway

  • The phosphatic slag from this process is used as fertilizer.

British Dictionary definitions for fertilizer




any substance, such as manure or a mixture of nitrates, added to soil or water to increase its productivity
an object or organism such as an insect that fertilizes an animal or plant
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 fertilizer

1660s, "a person who fertilizes," agent noun from fertilize. As a euphemism for "manure," from 1846.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

fertilizer in Science



Any of a large number of natural and synthetic materials, including manure and compounds containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, spread on or worked into soil to increase its capacity to support plant growth. Synthetic fertilizers can greatly increase the productivity of soil but have high energy costs, since fossil fuels are required as a source of hydrogen, which is necessary to fix nitrogen in ammonia.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.