Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Not producing or incapable of producing offspring.
  • adjective Not producing or incapable of producing seed, fruit, spores, or other reproductive structures. Used of plants or their parts.
  • adjective Producing little or no vegetation; unfruitful.
  • adjective Free from live bacteria or other microorganisms.
  • adjective Lacking imagination, creativity, or vitality.
  • adjective Lacking the power to function; not productive or effective; fruitless.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Unfruitful; unproductive; not fertile.
  • Barren; not reproducing its kind.
  • In botany, of a flower, producing only stamens—that is, staminate or male (compare neutral); of a stamen, having no anther, or a functionless one; of an anther, without pollen; of an ovary, without perfect seeds; of a seed, without an embryo; of a frond, without sori. See cuts under Onoclea, Ophioglossum, sassafras, and smoke-tree.
  • Free from living germs.
  • Leading to no results; fruitless; profitless; useless.
  • Lacking richness of thought or expression; bald; bare: as, a sterile style; sterile verse.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Producing little or no crop; barren; unfruitful; unproductive; not fertile.
  • adjective Incapable of reproduction; unfitted for reproduction of offspring; not able to germinate or bear fruit; unfruitful.
  • adjective Free from reproductive spores or germs.
  • adjective Fig.: Barren of ideas; destitute of sentiment.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective not comparable Unable to reproduce (or procreate).
  • adjective Unprofitable.
  • adjective Germless; free from all living or viable microorganisms.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective free of or using methods to keep free of pathological microorganisms
  • adjective deficient in originality or creativity; lacking powers of invention
  • adjective incapable of reproducing

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin sterilis.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin sterilis ("barren, futile"). See also Ancient Greek στεῖρα (steira).

Examples

  • For starters, he's put off by what he calls the sterile look of modern evangelical churches.

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  • It feels sterile to me but sterile is better in my view than some crime-ridden shithole.

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  • His hands touched the tools, glanced off the handle of a modified bone-saw that lay with its harsh circular blade submerged in sterile solution.

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  • I agree with the first name basis – many companies foister this as a way of making people feel they are part of the “Team” – but too often business relationships remain sterile first name or not.

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  • It feels sterile to me but sterile is better in my view than some crime-ridden shithole.

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  • Unlike the market-driven art featured in sterile, white box galleries, the work of Tokodi is meant to be touched, felt, and in turn touch you in the playful ways that her animated installations call to mind a more familiar, environmentally friendly state in the barren patches of urban existence.

    GREEN GRAFFITI by Artist Edina Tokodi | Inhabitat

  • Burn victims, isolated in sterile rooms, later wincing in therapy as they learn to use their hands again, working through the pain.

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  • Loosely wrap the areas in sterile bandages and reach medical help.

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  • Unlike the market-driven art featured in sterile, white box galleries, the work of Tokodi is meant to be touched, felt, and in turn touch you in the playful ways that her animated installations call to mind a more familiar, environmentally friendly state in the barren patches of urban existence.

    CLEAN GREEN LIVING GRAFFITI made from moss! | Inhabitat

  • Unlike the market-driven art featured in sterile, white box galleries, the work of Tokodi is meant to be touched, felt, and in turn touch you in the playful ways that her animated installations call to mind a more familiar, environmentally friendly state in the barren patches of urban existence.

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