Definition of sterile in US English:

sterile

adjective

  • 1Not able to produce children or young.

    ‘the disease had made him sterile’
    • ‘If enough females mate with the sterile males, the overall population should be reduced, thereby reducing the danger of human infection.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Because hybrid males are almost completely sterile, almost all eggs are unfertilized.’
    • ‘Transition probabilities were nearly identical when sterile individuals were excluded from the analysis.’
    • ‘The barnacle replaces the crab's gonads with itself, thereby rendering its host sterile.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Following a two-year pre-release sanitation programme in Zone 1, the first sterile moths were released in May 1994.’
    • ‘Turning nectar into honey is one of many tasks performed by the worker bees - the sterile females.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘After 10 days, all females in vials lacking eggs were discarded and considered sterile.’
    • ‘Ants are divided into castes, with reproductive queens and kings, and sterile workers (all of which are female).’
    • ‘The scientists use the sterile lion as a ‘teaser’ to determine which females are ‘in season’ and ready to inseminate.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The sterile females also had rough eyes and clipped wings, two phenotypes associated with cell division defects.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of a plant) not able to produce fruit or seeds.
      • ‘The corporations are also working to ensure GM crops are sterile, so farmers are forced to buy new seeds from them each year.’
      • ‘According to the magazine report, new varieties of bananas cannot be easily produced as the plant is a sterile mutant.’
      • ‘Other solutions include making the plants sterile or growing them in enclosed greenhouses.’
      • ‘Fern experts in the group added two unusual Botrychiums, so the Skidmore fern list now stands at 30, not counting sterile hybrids.’
      • ‘On the contrary, the surgically-treated plants and the sterile mutants put more into their reproductive structures and live longer.’
      • ‘It is a genetic modification that makes the plants grown from the transgenic seed sterile.’
      • ‘That imbalance prevents seeds and pollen from developing normally, making the mutant plants sterile.’
      • ‘He said cross-fertilisation could be stopped by making GM plants sterile.’
      • ‘Fruiting plants are immediately recognizable by the unique bright blue color of their drupes, but sterile shrubs are very nondescript and easily overlooked.’
      • ‘In severe cases the flowers are sterile, although lesser affected female flowers may be fertilized to give mantled fruit.’
      • ‘Crossing experiments and field observations have shown that triploid individuals are sterile and no fruits are produced.’
      • ‘Vegetative propagation is used because, except for a few recently discovered fertile clones, garlic flowers are sterile and will not produce true seed.’
      • ‘A freeze at this stage can kill or damage the pollen-producing anthers, affecting kernel development and possibly causing the plant to become sterile.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Male sterile plants don't produce pollen, which makes it easier to breed improved hybrids and produce hybrid seed.’
      • ‘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 October, researchers said that they had a male sterile bentgrass plant.’
    2. 1.2 (of land or soil) too poor in quality to produce crops.
      • ‘It is a perennial forb that prefers dry, sterile, and sandy soils, often in dry, open woodlands, savannas, or clearings.’
      • ‘From here on my wicker chair it seems incredible that just short decades ago this garden was a dust-bowl, a sterile desert.’
      • ‘Scientists now suspect that the harsh atmosphere made the soil sterile.’
      • ‘The sturdy roots dug deep into unyielding rocks and drew nourishment from the seemingly sterile soil.’
      • ‘Unless your soil is actually sterile, which is rare, it is recommended that you use your soil as you find it.’
      • ‘If the king is impotent, the land likewise becomes sterile.’
      • ‘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.’
      unproductive, infertile, unfruitful, uncultivatable
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 Lacking in imagination, creativity, or excitement; uninspiring or unproductive.
      ‘he found the fraternity's teachings sterile’
      • ‘No, their consultations are done in the cold sterile environment of the autopsy room.’
      • ‘The photographs are far from romantic evocations of the seaside and have a disengaged quality about them, lifeless without being sterile.’
      • ‘The poetry resulting from direct computer entry is polished but rather sterile I think.’
      • ‘This year, thankfully, sees a break with that sterile debate.’
      • ‘It becomes sterile - lacking joy, awe and a sense of God.’
      • ‘They will silence me, continuing onwards to their sterile and humorless future, wiping the world's mysteries into oblivion.’
      • ‘His tactics turned out to be sterile, dull and most importantly ineffective.’
      • ‘Suddenly, all my lavishly packaged concept albums seemed pointless, irrelevant, sterile.’
      • ‘Personally, I have long ceased listening to either its presentation by the Finance Minister, or the sterile debate that follows.’
      • ‘Heaven turned out to be a rather sterile experience of standing around on clouds.’
      • ‘When our words lose the ability to convey an ethical connotation they become sterile and worthless.’
      • ‘Discussions are sometimes abusive and unpleasant, and often sterile and unproductive, with most people adhering rigidly to their long-entrenched prejudices.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We are also seeing a resurgence of sterile debate about process, rather than negotiations on substance.’
      • ‘Radio in this town is so sterile that young people are turned off by it.’
      • ‘"The locomotive is my depression crashing in on my rather sterile, matter-of-fact world.’
      • ‘The problem is the debates on the Left have been quite sterile.’
      • ‘Without dialogue and a lively sense of interdependence, both traditions will eventually die and become sterile.’
      • ‘If that's the aim, it's a futile and sterile one.’
      • ‘They are technologically advanced but emotionally sterile, and their sole goal is universal domination.’
      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’
    • ‘Sterilizing seed and growing plants under sterile conditions was done as previously described.’
    • ‘All invasive surgical procedures should be performed using aseptic technique and sterile instruments and supplies.’
    • ‘Before application of the dressing, the skin around the pressure ulcer was cleaned with sterile saline.’
    • ‘Broader access to sterile syringes, however, may be an uphill battle.’
    • ‘What is the recommended action if these instruments are not considered sterile?’
    • ‘The holes were flushed with sterile saline to ensure they were clear of debris.’
    • ‘The home grower is under less pressure and conditions are not normally as 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.’
    • ‘Use of correct procedures for transporting items preserves the qualities of the sterile and clean environment.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They also provide sterile syringes and needles, as well as management of overdoses by medical personnel when necessary.’
    • ‘The tip of the syringe should be kept sterile, and not placed in the infant's incubator or bed.’
    • ‘Wrap the burned area with a dry, sterile dressing or a clean cloth.’
    • ‘Finally, the seeds were washed with sterile water five or six times before placing them for germination on cotton pads.’
    • ‘When blisters appear, fluid should be withdrawn with a sterile syringe with needle, relieving pressure and subsequent trauma.’
    • ‘The closure threatens the supply of clean, sterile needles to local intravenous drug users.’
    • ‘Before the procedure, the area is prepared with antiseptic solution and a sterile drape is placed over your body.’
    • ‘Sterile syringes and needles should be given to confirmed drug addicts.’
    • ‘Plants were rinsed with sterile deionized water.’
    • ‘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
    View synonyms

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/