Definition of sterile in US English:

sterile

adjective

  • 1Not able to produce children or young.

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

    ‘a sterile needle and syringes’
    • ‘Plants were rinsed with sterile deionized water.’
    • ‘Wrap the burned area with a dry, sterile dressing 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.’
    • ‘When blisters appear, fluid should be withdrawn with a sterile syringe with needle, relieving pressure and subsequent trauma.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘What is the recommended action if these instruments are not considered sterile?’
    • ‘Sterile syringes and needles should be given to confirmed drug addicts.’
    • ‘The closure threatens the supply of clean, sterile needles to local intravenous drug users.’
    • ‘The authors conclude that tap water might be as effective in preventing bacterial infection as sterile normal saline solution for simple wounds in children.’
    • ‘They also provide sterile syringes and needles, as well as management of overdoses by medical personnel when necessary.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Finally, the seeds were washed with sterile water five or six times before placing them for germination on cotton pads.’
    • ‘Sterilizing seed and growing plants under sterile conditions was done as previously described.’
    • ‘The tip of the syringe should be kept sterile, and not placed in the infant's incubator or bed.’
    • ‘The holes were flushed with sterile saline to ensure they were clear of debris.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Broader access to sterile syringes, however, may be an uphill battle.’
    • ‘Use of correct procedures for transporting items preserves the qualities of the sterile and clean environment.’
    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 (sense 2) dates from the late 19th century.

Pronunciation

sterile

/ˈsterəl//ˈstɛrəl/