Definition of fertile in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈfərdl/


1(Of soil or land) producing or capable of producing abundant vegetation or crops: fields along the fertile flood plains of the river figurative Germany in the 1920s and 30s was fertile ground for such ideas
More example sentences
  • The mountains prevented large-scale farming and impelled the Greeks to look beyond their borders to new lands where fertile soil was more abundant.
  • Malaria has been eradicated and the Hule has become one of the breadbaskets of Israel, acre upon acre of fertile land abundant with fruit and grain and garden crops.
  • The soil is extremely fertile and produces immense crops when there is enough rainfall, otherwise they are a failure.
1.1(Of a seed or egg) capable of becoming a new individual.
Example sentences
  • Some of my favorite duck hens were getting older though, so I had to reconsider artificial incubation for any fertile eggs they laid.
  • The left and right bars of each pair represent infertile and fertile eggs, respectively.
  • All females that laid fertile eggs were given a month's break.
1.2(Of a person, animal, or plant) able to conceive young or produce seed: Barbara carefully calculated the period when she was most fertile
More example sentences
  • It's in our biology to seek out young and fertile creatures.
  • Since female mice are fertile for more than a year, their ovaries had to be generating new oocytes, the scientists reasoned.
  • All five mice were fertile and went on to produce their own healthy pups.
able to conceive, able to have children
technical fecund
1.3(Of a person’s mind or imagination) producing many new and inventive ideas with ease.
Example sentences
  • In Lindsay's fertile imagination, such ideas interact in strange and unexpected ways.
  • These characters are all part of Kamen's fertile imagination as he invented all of these roles.
  • It is from this very imagination of some fertile minds that various religious texts, rituals and ideas have sprouted.
1.4(Of a situation or subject) fruitful and productive in generating new ideas: a series of fertile debates within the social sciences
More example sentences
  • Taking refuge in the dharma, taking a passionless approach, means that all of life is regarded as a fertile situation and a learning situation, always.
  • When Chester accepted the invitation to go to the University of Kentucky, it put our family in a fertile situation where we could grow individually and as a family.
  • The ramps will be approximately 150 yards away from this hostel, making it a fertile prospect for drug pushers both on site at the hostel and also the ramp site.
1.5 Physics (Of nuclear material) able to become fissile by the capture of neutrons.
Example sentences
  • This report provides an overview of recyclable fissile and fertile materials inventories which can be reused as nuclear fuel.
  • It does not contain fissile or fertile nuclear materials; therefore, there is no risk of nuclear proliferation.


Late Middle English: via French from Latin fertilis, from ferre 'to bear'.

  • refer from Late Middle English:

    Refer comes from Latin referre ‘carry back’, from re- ‘back’ and ferre ‘bring’. Referee dates from the early 17th century, but did not appear in sports contexts until the mid 19th century. Referre is also the source of mid 19th-century referendum from the Latin for ‘referring’. Ferre is the source of numerous words in English including confer ‘bring together’; defer ‘put to one side or away’, which shares an origin with differ; fertile ‘bearing’; and transfer ‘carry across’, all of which came into the language in the Late Middle English period.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: fer·tile

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.