sterile

sterile, barren, impotent, unfruitful, infertile mean not having or not manifesting the power to produce offspring or to bear literal or figurative fruit.
Sterile, opposed to fertile, in its basic application to living things implies an inability to reproduce
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sterile hyphae that protect the fruiting body of a fungus

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a sterile marriage

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the workers among ants and bees are sterile

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the attempt will be made to distinguish between those who are childless from choice and those who are sterileJour, of Heredity

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But sterile is widely extendible to things that might reasonably be expected to be fruitful but that in fact are not so; thus, poor worthless land in which plants will not grow is described as sterile; minds deficient in ideas are sterile; funds left in a safe-deposit box and drawing no interest are sterile; whatever offers no return (as of pleasure, profit, value, or use) is sterile
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beneath his fun lurked the sterile bitterness of the still young man who has tried and given up— Wharton

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his unsatisfactory relations with women; and his impulses toward a sterile and infantile perversity— Edmund Wilson

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Barren (see also BARE 1) applies especially to a female who has borne no offspring or who is or is believed to be incapable of bearing any
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a barren heifer

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she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barrenLk 1:36

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In extended use the term can imply a lack of return or profit
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a barren conquest which brought him no special repute— Buchan

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Impotent (see also POWERLESS) applies to the male and implies a lack of the ability to copulate and a corresponding inability to reproduce his kind
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a pink Sultan with his pale harem maidens and a yellow slob of eunuch lolling impotent in the background— Murchie

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Only rarely is the term in this sense used of other than the male animal, and in such use it approaches the aspect of impotent discriminated at powerless
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whole groups of animals and plants are rendered impotent by the same unnatural conditions— Darwin

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Unfruitful is sometimes used in place of barren not only as applied to the female but as applied to land, vegetation, or efforts which bear no fruit
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an unfruitful tree

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unfruitful soil

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this unsavory and unfruitful piece of research— Cater

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Infertile is often interchanged with sterile
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an infertile egg

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infertile matings

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but it is as likely to imply deficiency as absence of fertility and is appropriately used when a relative rather than an absolute sterility is to be implied
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the infertile grazings of those hills— Allan Eraser

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an infertile strain of beef cattle

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has our history shown that liberty is so infertile a principle that with it we are unable to compete in the world struggle . .. 1—Chenery

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animals and plants, when removed from their natural conditions, are often rendered in some degree infertileDarwin

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Analogous words: *bare, barren, bald, naked: arid, *dry: *meager, exiguous: empty, hollow, nugatory, *vain
Antonyms: fertile: exuberant
Contrasted words: bearing, yielding, producing, turning out (see BEAR): fecund, fruitful, prolific (see FERTILE)

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • stérile — [ steril ] adj. • 1370; lat. sterilis I ♦ 1 ♦ Inapte à la génération, à la reproduction par défaut de production de spermatozoïdes (chez l homme) ou d ovules (chez la femme) ou par suite de circonstances s opposant à la fécondation. ⇒ infécond ;… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • sterile — adj. de tout genre. Qui ne porte point de fruit, quoy qu il soit de nature à en porter. Champ sterile. terre sterile. arbre sterile. On dit, qu Une femme est sterile, pour dire, qu Elle n est point capable d avoir des enfans. On appelle, Année… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Sterile — Ster ile, a. [F. st[ e]rile, L. sterilis, akin to Gr. stereo s stiff, solid, stei^ros barren, stei^ra a cow that has not calved, Goth. stair[=o], fem., barren. See {Stare} to gaze.] 1. Producing little or no crop; barren; unfruitful;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Sterile — Stérile Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Stérile signifie soit sans vie, soit sans possibilité de la donner. Stérile Désinfecté: Médicalement, un milieu stérile est un milieu désinfecté,… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • sterile — [ster′əl; ] Brit & Cdn, usually [, ster′īl΄] adj. [L sterilis < IE * ster , barren (> Gr steira, barren, OE stierc, calf), special use of base * ster , stiff, rigid > STARE] 1. incapable of producing others of its kind; barren 2.… …   English World dictionary

  • sterile — early 15c., 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, sol …   Etymology dictionary

  • sterile — Sterile, Sterilis, Infoecundus. Terre sterile, Terra ieiuna. Devenir sterile, Sterilescere …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • sterile — / stɛrile/ agg. [dal lat. sterĭlis ]. 1. (biol.) [di individuo umano o animale, che non è in grado di generare o di concepire: un cavallo, una coppia s. ; diventare s., rendere s. ] ▶◀ infecondo. ◀▶ fecondo, fertile, prolifico. 2. (bot.) [di… …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • sterile — sterile. См. стерильный. (Источник: «Англо русский толковый словарь генетических терминов». Арефьев В.А., Лисовенко Л.А., Москва: Изд во ВНИРО, 1995 г.) …   Молекулярная биология и генетика. Толковый словарь.

  • sterile — index barren, ineffective, ineffectual, otiose, unproductive Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary


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