[ster-il or, esp. British, -ahyl]
free from living germs or microorganisms; aseptic: sterile surgical instruments.
incapable of producing offspring; not producing offspring.
barren; not producing vegetation: sterile soil.
noting a plant in which reproductive structures fail to develop.
bearing no stamens or pistils.
not productive of results, ideas, etc.; fruitless.

1545–55; < Latin sterilis unfruitful

sterilely, adverb
sterility [stuh-ril-i-tee] , sterileness, noun
antisterility, adjective
half-sterile, adjective
nonsterile, adjective
nonsterilely, adverb
nonsterility, noun
unsterile, adjective

1. impetus, impotence, sterility ; 2. impotence, sterility, sterilized.

2. infecund, unfruitful.

2, 3. fertile. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
sterile (ˈstɛraɪl)
1.  unable to produce offspring; infertile
2.  free from living, esp pathogenic, microorganisms; aseptic
3.  (of plants or their parts) not producing or bearing seeds, fruit, spores, stamens, or pistils
4.  lacking inspiration or vitality; fruitless
5.  (US) economics (of gold) not being used to support credit creation or an increased money supply
[C16: from Latin sterilis]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1426, "barren" (implied in sterility), from M.Fr. stérile "not producing fruit," from L. sterilis "barren, unproductive," from PIE *ster- "sterile, barren" originally "stiff, rigid" (cf. Gk. steresthai "be deprived of," steira "sterile," stereos "firm, solid, stiff, hard;" Skt. starih "a barren
cow;" O.C.S. sterica "a barren cow;" Goth. stairo "barren;" O.N. stirtla "a barren cow"). See torpor. Originally in Eng. with ref. to soil; of females, from 1535. The sense of "sterilized" is first recorded 1877. Sterilize "destroy the fertility of" is from 1695 (in ref. to soil); of living things from 1828. Meaning "render free of microorganisms" is from 1878. Sterilization is from 1874.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

sterile ster·ile (stěr'əl, -īl')

  1. Not producing or incapable of producing offspring.

  2. Free from all live bacteria or other microorganisms and their spores.

ster'ile·ness or ste·ril'i·ty (stə-rĭl'ĭ-tē) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
sterile   (stěr'əl, stěr'īl')  Pronunciation Key 
  1. Not able to produce offspring, seeds, or fruit; unable to reproduce.

  2. Free from disease-causing microorganisms.

sterility noun (stə-rĭl'ĭ-tē)
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


the inability of a couple to conceive and reproduce. Infertility is defined as the failure to conceive after one year of regular intercourse without contraception or the inability of a woman to carry a pregnancy to a live birth. Infertility can affect either the male or the female and can result from a number of causes. About 1 in every 10 couples is infertile, or somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of the population

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
But the study's authors say that following reprocessing, there's no difference in safety and sterility.
The hot crucible of the psychiatrist's office is far removed from the cool sterility of research labs and academic offices.
The aim of this study is to investigate sterility of ethyl-chloride topical anesthetic spray when used prior to an injection.
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