sterile (adj.) Look up sterile at
mid-15c., "barren," from Middle French stérile "not producing fruit," from Latin sterilis "barren, unproductive, unfruitful; unrequited; unprofitable," from PIE *ster- (1) "stiff, rigid, firm, strong" (see stereo-). Also see torpor. Originally in English with reference to soil; of persons (chiefly females), from 1530s. The sense of "sterilized, free from living germs" is first recorded 1877.