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[fur-tl-ahyz] /ˈfɜr tlˌaɪz/
verb (used with object), fertilized, fertilizing.
  1. to render (the female gamete) capable of development by uniting it with the male gamete.
  2. to fecundate or impregnate (an animal or plant).
to make fertile; enrich:
to fertilize farmland.
to make productive.
Also, especially British, fertilise.
Origin of fertilize
1640-50; fertile + -ize
Related forms
fertilizable, adjective
fertilizability, noun
overfertilize, verb (used with object), overfertilized, overfertilizing.
prefertilize, verb (used with object), prefertilized, prefertilizing.
refertilizable, adjective
refertilize, verb (used with object), refertilized, refertilizing.
unfertilizable, adjective
unfertilized, adjective
unfertilizing, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for fertilize
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I fertilize my orchard with stable litter, and think it beneficial, and would advise its use on all soils.

    The Apple Various
  • If enthusiasm were suffered to penetrate and fertilize her soul!

    The Patrician John Galsworthy
  • I fertilize with stable litter, but would advise it only on hill orchards.

    The Apple Various
  • It was easier to break new land than to fertilize that long in use.

  • The ground was so rich that it was not necessary to fertilize it.

  • It is unable to fertilize itself and must be set near other varieties.

    The Grapes of New York U. P. Hedrick
  • I fertilize my orchard every two or three years with stable litter.

    The Apple Various
  • The perfume attracts insects, and insects do fertilize some flowers.

    Gray youth Oliver Onions
British Dictionary definitions for fertilize


verb (transitive)
to provide (an animal, plant, or egg cell) with sperm or pollen to bring about fertilization
to supply (soil or water) with mineral and organic nutrients to aid the growth of plants
to make fertile or productive
Derived Forms
fertilizable, fertilisable, adjective
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 fertilize

1640s, "make fertile;" see fertile + -ize. Its biological sense of "unite with an egg cell" is first recorded 1859. Related: Fertilized; fertilizing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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fertilize in Science
  1. The process by which two gametes (reproductive cells having a single, haploid set of chromosomes) fuse to become a zygote, which develops into a new organism. The resultant zygote is diploid (it has two sets of chromosomes). In cross-fertilization, the two gametes come from two different individual organisms. In self-fertilization, the gametes come from the same individual. Fertilization includes the union of the cytoplasm of the gametes (called plasmogamy) followed by the union of the nuclei of the two gametes (called karyogamy). Among many animals, such as mammals, fertilization occurs inside the body of the female. Among fish, eggs are fertilized in the water. Among plants, fertilization of eggs occurs within the reproductive structures of the parent plant, such as the ovules of gymnosperms and angiosperms. See Note at pollination.

  2. The process of making soil more productive of plant growth, as by the addition of organic material or fertilizer.

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