[in-fur-tl or, esp. British, -tahyl]
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Origin of infertile

From the Latin word infertilis, dating back to 1590–1600. See in-3, fertile
Related formsin·fer·tile·ly, adverbin·fer·til·i·ty, in·fer·tile·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for infertile


  1. not capable of producing offspring; sterile
  2. (of land) not productive; barren
Derived Formsinfertilely, adverbinfertility (ˌɪnfəˈtɪlɪtɪ), 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

Word Origin and History for infertile

1590s, from French infertile (late 15c.), from Late Latin infertilis "unfruitful," from in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + fertilis (see fertile).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

infertile in Medicine


  1. Not capable of initiating, sustaining, or supporting reproduction.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

infertile in Science


  1. Not capable of reproducing.
  2. Not capable of developing into a complete organism, as infertile eggs.
  3. Relating to soil or land that is not capable of supporting or is unfavorable to the growth of plants.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.