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[fur-tl or, esp. British, -tahyl] /ˈfɜr tl or, esp. British, -taɪl/
bearing, producing, or capable of producing vegetation, crops, etc., abundantly; prolific:
fertile soil.
bearing or capable of bearing offspring.
abundantly productive:
a fertile imagination.
producing an abundance (usually followed by of or in):
a land fertile of wheat.
conducive to productiveness:
fertile showers.
  1. fertilized, as an egg or ovum; fecundated.
  2. capable of growth or development, as seeds or eggs.
  1. capable of producing sexual reproductive structures.
  2. capable of causing fertilization, as an anther with fully developed pollen.
  3. having spore-bearing organs, as a frond.
Physics. (of a nuclide) capable of being transmuted into a fissile nuclide by irradiation with neutrons:
Uranium 238 and thorium 232 are fertile nuclides.
Compare fissile (def 2).
produced in abundance.
Origin of fertile
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English (< Middle French) < Latin fertilis fruitful, akin to ferre to bear1; see -ile
Related forms
fertilely, adverb
fertileness, noun
half-fertile, adjective
half-fertilely, adverb
half-fertileness, noun
nonfertile, adjective
overfertile, adjective
prefertile, adjective
unfertile, adjective
1–3. fecund, teeming. See productive.
1–3. sterile, barren. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for fertile
  • Oh, and it's self-fertile, so you only need one plant to set fruit.
  • It is slightly self fertile and will only reseed itself occasionally.
  • Decades of deforestation have taken their toll, transforming this once-fertile region into a parched wasteland.
  • As the ultimate mark of kinship, such couplings were thought to be perfectly fertile.
  • Rugged mountains and untamed forest came to represent a country that wanted to see itself as strong and fertile.
  • From the beach, the shag migrated inland and found fertile ground in country club and cotton crossroads alike.
  • Some moved into the park itself, setting fires to clear fertile land.
  • It was still desert, but the land looked more fertile now.
  • She shifts from workaday laborer to fertile egg layer, adjusting body and life history in the process.
  • He is a writer of fertile imagination, and is peculiarly happy in the expression of tender and delicate sentiment.
British Dictionary definitions for fertile


capable of producing offspring
  1. (of land) having nutrients capable of sustaining an abundant growth of plants
  2. (of farm animals) capable of breeding stock
  1. capable of undergoing growth and development: fertile seeds, fertile eggs
  2. (of plants) capable of producing gametes, spores, seeds, or fruits
producing many offspring; prolific
highly productive; rich; abundant: a fertile brain
(physics) (of a substance) able to be transformed into fissile or fissionable material, esp in a nuclear reactor
conducive to productiveness: fertile rain
Derived Forms
fertilely, adverb
fertileness, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin fertilis, from ferre to bear
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
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Word Origin and History for fertile

mid-15c., from Middle French fertil and directly from Latin fertilis "bearing in abundance, fruitful, productive," from ferre "to bear" (see infer). Fertile Crescent (1914) was coined by U.S. archaeologist James H. Breasted (1865-1935).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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fertile in Medicine

fertile fer·tile (fûr'tl)

  1. Capable of conceiving and bearing young.

  2. Fertilized. Used of an ovum.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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fertile in Science
  1. Capable of producing offspring, seeds, or fruit.

  2. Capable of developing into a complete organism; fertilized.

  3. Capable of supporting plant life; favorable to the growth of crops and plants.

fertility noun
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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