Definition of sterile in English:

sterile

adjective

  • 1Not able to produce children or young:

    ‘the disease had made him sterile’
    • ‘After 10 days, all females in vials lacking eggs were discarded and considered sterile.’
    • ‘Worker insects in hives are often sterile clones of the reproductively-active queen.’
    • ‘As expected given low levels of wild codling moths, release of sterile males, and treatment with pheromone, there was no detectable codling moth damage in any orchard.’
    • ‘As the experiment was designed to assess the effect of mating on female egg fertility, it was important to remove sterile females from the data set.’
    • ‘The scientists use the sterile lion as a ‘teaser’ to determine which females are ‘in season’ and ready to inseminate.’
    • ‘This means that when females cannot detect costly mates, the strength of selection on females increases with the frequency of sterile males in the population.’
    • ‘In many social insects, kin selection has led to the evolution of sterile workers which are behaviorally or morphologically specialized for colony defense.’
    • ‘Sex, he had explained to her, takes up a lot of biological energy, and he couldn't figure out why a species would evolve such an orientation when there was no possibility of reproduction between sterile females.’
    • ‘But because mules are sterile, breeding new champions is difficult.’
    • ‘The ratter kills young and old, male and female, pregnant and sterile with the same compassionless urge.’
    • ‘Turning nectar into honey is one of many tasks performed by the worker bees - the sterile females.’
    • ‘Transition probabilities were nearly identical when sterile individuals were excluded from the analysis.’
    • ‘If enough females mate with the sterile males, the overall population should be reduced, thereby reducing the danger of human infection.’
    • ‘The sterile females also had rough eyes and clipped wings, two phenotypes associated with cell division defects.’
    • ‘The barnacle replaces the crab's gonads with itself, thereby rendering its host sterile.’
    • ‘Following a two-year pre-release sanitation programme in Zone 1, the first sterile moths were released in May 1994.’
    • ‘Because hybrid males are almost completely sterile, almost all eggs are unfertilized.’
    • ‘Ants are divided into castes, with reproductive queens and kings, and sterile workers (all of which are female).’
    • ‘We don't think that would be a problem as sterile fish are not genetically manipulated.’
    • ‘Those adults that do survive are extremely sickly; the females were invariably sterile and the males bred very poorly.’
    infertile
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    1. 1.1 (of a plant) not able to produce fruit or seeds:
      ‘the peppermints are vigorous sterile hybrids’
      • ‘And if the transformation did not occur throughout the Pacific, it probably occurred in just one place, and the sterile trees must have been spread by human means.’
      • ‘But this presents some difficulties because banana is essentially a clonal crop with many sterile species.’
      • ‘Lacecap hydrangeas bear flat round flowerheads with centers of fertile flowers surrounded by outer rings of sterile flowers.’
      • ‘In severe cases the flowers are sterile, although lesser affected female flowers may be fertilized to give mantled fruit.’
      • ‘The corporations are also working to ensure GM crops are sterile, so farmers are forced to buy new seeds from them each year.’
      • ‘Fruiting plants are immediately recognizable by the unique bright blue color of their drupes, but sterile shrubs are very nondescript and easily overlooked.’
      • ‘Vegetative propagation is used because, except for a few recently discovered fertile clones, garlic flowers are sterile and will not produce true seed.’
      • ‘Other solutions include making the plants sterile or growing them in enclosed greenhouses.’
      • ‘That imbalance prevents seeds and pollen from developing normally, making the mutant plants sterile.’
      • ‘A freeze at this stage can kill or damage the pollen-producing anthers, affecting kernel development and possibly causing the plant to become sterile.’
      • ‘He said cross-fertilisation could be stopped by making GM plants sterile.’
      • ‘On the contrary, the surgically-treated plants and the sterile mutants put more into their reproductive structures and live longer.’
      • ‘Fern experts in the group added two unusual Botrychiums, so the Skidmore fern list now stands at 30, not counting sterile hybrids.’
      • ‘Male sterile plants don't produce pollen, which makes it easier to breed improved hybrids and produce hybrid seed.’
      • ‘According to the magazine report, new varieties of bananas cannot be easily produced as the plant is a sterile mutant.’
      • ‘In October, researchers said that they had a male sterile bentgrass plant.’
      • ‘It is a genetic modification that makes the plants grown from the transgenic seed sterile.’
      • ‘Crossing experiments and field observations have shown that triploid individuals are sterile and no fruits are produced.’
    2. 1.2 (of land or soil) too poor in quality to produce crops:
      ‘vast tracts of sterile desert land’
      • ‘If the king is impotent, the land likewise becomes sterile.’
      • ‘The sturdy roots dug deep into unyielding rocks and drew nourishment from the seemingly sterile soil.’
      • ‘Scientists now suspect that the harsh atmosphere made the soil sterile.’
      • ‘Unless your soil is actually sterile, which is rare, it is recommended that you use your soil as you find it.’
      • ‘From here on my wicker chair it seems incredible that just short decades ago this garden was a dust-bowl, a sterile desert.’
      • ‘Hester remains in Boston, and goes to live on a remote peninsula of the town in an abandoned cottage where the land is too sterile to support a family.’
      • ‘Downy blue star (A. ciliata) is native to sterile sandy soils in the southern states.’
      • ‘It is a perennial forb that prefers dry, sterile, and sandy soils, often in dry, open woodlands, savannas, or clearings.’
      unproductive, infertile, unfruitful, uncultivatable
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    3. 1.3 Lacking in imagination, creativity, or excitement; uninspiring or unproductive:
      ‘he found the fraternity's teachings sterile’
      • ‘Suddenly, all my lavishly packaged concept albums seemed pointless, irrelevant, sterile.’
      • ‘No, their consultations are done in the cold sterile environment of the autopsy room.’
      • ‘They will silence me, continuing onwards to their sterile and humorless future, wiping the world's mysteries into oblivion.’
      • ‘The photographs are far from romantic evocations of the seaside and have a disengaged quality about them, lifeless without being sterile.’
      • ‘This year, thankfully, sees a break with that sterile debate.’
      • ‘We are also seeing a resurgence of sterile debate about process, rather than negotiations on substance.’
      • ‘They are technologically advanced but emotionally sterile, and their sole goal is universal domination.’
      • ‘His tactics turned out to be sterile, dull and most importantly ineffective.’
      • ‘"The locomotive is my depression crashing in on my rather sterile, matter-of-fact world.’
      • ‘Good people worked for him, many of them doing their first-ever jobs in comics, but the material was generally sterile and lifeless, and it sold accordingly.’
      • ‘Heaven turned out to be a rather sterile experience of standing around on clouds.’
      • ‘Without dialogue and a lively sense of interdependence, both traditions will eventually die and become sterile.’
      • ‘When our words lose the ability to convey an ethical connotation they become sterile and worthless.’
      • ‘The poetry resulting from direct computer entry is polished but rather sterile I think.’
      • ‘The problem is the debates on the Left have been quite sterile.’
      • ‘Discussions are sometimes abusive and unpleasant, and often sterile and unproductive, with most people adhering rigidly to their long-entrenched prejudices.’
      • ‘Radio in this town is so sterile that young people are turned off by it.’
      • ‘Personally, I have long ceased listening to either its presentation by the Finance Minister, or the sterile debate that follows.’
      • ‘If that's the aim, it's a futile and sterile one.’
      • ‘It becomes sterile - lacking joy, awe and a sense of God.’
      pointless, profitless, unproductive, unfruitful, fruitless, unrewarding, abortive, unsuccessful, ineffectual, ineffective, worthless, useless, unprofitable, futile, vain, idle
      unimaginative, uninspired, uninspiring, unoriginal, derivative, stale, lifeless, musty
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  • 2Free from bacteria or other living microorganisms; totally clean:

    ‘a sterile needle and syringes’
    • ‘Use of correct procedures for transporting items preserves the qualities of the sterile and clean environment.’
    • ‘Sterile syringes and needles should be given to confirmed drug addicts.’
    • ‘Finally, the seeds were washed with sterile water five or six times before placing them for germination on cotton pads.’
    • ‘The tip of the syringe should be kept sterile, and not placed in the infant's incubator or bed.’
    • ‘Broader access to sterile syringes, however, may be an uphill battle.’
    • ‘Plants were rinsed with sterile deionized water.’
    • ‘The closure threatens the supply of clean, sterile needles to local intravenous drug users.’
    • ‘If you find that the foreign object is embedded in the eyeball, cover the person's eye with a sterile pad or a clean cloth.’
    • ‘The home grower is under less pressure and conditions are not normally as sterile.’
    • ‘All invasive surgical procedures should be performed using aseptic technique and sterile instruments and supplies.’
    • ‘Wrap the burned area with a dry, sterile dressing or a clean cloth.’
    • ‘Sterilizing seed and growing plants under sterile conditions was done as previously described.’
    • ‘When blisters appear, fluid should be withdrawn with a sterile syringe with needle, relieving pressure and subsequent trauma.’
    • ‘Before application of the dressing, the skin around the pressure ulcer was cleaned with sterile saline.’
    • ‘Before the procedure, the area is prepared with antiseptic solution and a sterile drape is placed over your body.’
    • ‘The holes were flushed with sterile saline to ensure they were clear of debris.’
    • ‘They also provide sterile syringes and needles, as well as management of overdoses by medical personnel when necessary.’
    • ‘What is the recommended action if these instruments are not considered sterile?’
    • ‘The authors conclude that tap water might be as effective in preventing bacterial infection as sterile normal saline solution for simple wounds in children.’
    • ‘Open fractures need to be cleaned thoroughly in the sterile environment of the operating room before they're set because the bone's exposure to the air poses a risk of infection.’
    aseptic, sterilized, germ-free, antiseptic, disinfected, uninfected, uncontaminated, unpolluted, pure, clean
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Origin

Late Middle English: from Old French, or from Latin sterilis; related to Greek steira barren cow. sterile dates from the late 19th century.

Pronunciation:

sterile

/ˈstɛrʌɪl/