- free from living germs or microorganisms; aseptic: sterile surgical instruments.
- incapable of producing offspring; not producing offspring.
- barren; not producing vegetation: sterile soil.
- noting a plant in which reproductive structures fail to develop.
- bearing no stamens or pistils.
- not productive of results, ideas, etc.; fruitless.
Origin of sterile
SynonymsSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for sterile
In reality,” Francis said, “theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity.Pope Francis Denounces the Vatican Elite’s 'Spiritual Alzheimer’s'
Barbie Latza Nadeau
December 23, 2014
Koenig has not been a sterile, objective narrator; she has openly voiced her biases, concerns, and gut feelings all along.Adnan Killed Her! No, Jay Did It! Serial’s Uncertain, True-to-Reality End
December 18, 2014
“Nonsterile gloves and sterile obstetric and surgical gloves were depleted or absent in all four counties,” the report reads.$10,000 a Month for Ebola Fighters
October 7, 2014
Though she portrays the Gulf Coast city as sterile, she also writes about it as a kind of haven.Tove Jansson, Queen of the Moomins
August 9, 2014
This collection is modern but not sterile, blending feminine and masculine silhouettes.New Kids on the Fashion Block: Timo Weiland, Wes Gordon, and Rosie Assoulin
February 13, 2014
It occasionally happens that the gills are sterile and remain white.The Mushroom, Edible and Otherwise
M. E. Hard
My hands were shaking as I took a sterile slide and pricked my finger.Competition
But a volcanic eruption is sterile, the ruin of the fertile ground.Under Western Eyes
His blood flows through him, a muddy stream of sterile water.Common Science
Carleton W. Washburne
In a few cases a sterile variety is described as the male and a fertile as the female.The Legacy of Greece
- unable to produce offspring; infertile
- free from living, esp pathogenic, microorganisms; aseptic
- (of plants or their parts) not producing or bearing seeds, fruit, spores, stamens, or pistils
- lacking inspiration or vitality; fruitless
- economics, US (of gold) not being used to support credit creation or an increased money supply
Word Origin and History for sterile
early 15c., "barren" (implied in sterility), from Middle French stérile "not producing fruit," from Latin sterilis "barren, unproductive," from PIE *ster- "sterile, barren" originally "stiff, rigid" (cf. Greek steresthai "be deprived of," steira "sterile," stereos "firm, solid, stiff, hard;" Sanskrit starih "a barren cow;" Old Church Slavonic sterica "a barren cow;" Gothic stairo "barren;" Old Norse stirtla "a barren cow"). See torpor. Originally in English with reference to soil; of females, from 1530s. The sense of "sterilized" is first recorded 1877.
- Not producing or incapable of producing offspring.
- Free from all live bacteria or other microorganisms and their spores.
- Not able to produce offspring, seeds, or fruit; unable to reproduce.
- Free from disease-causing microorganisms.