sterile (adj.)

mid-15c., "barren," from Middle French stérile "not producing fruit," from Latin sterilis "barren, unproductive, unfruitful; unrequited; unprofitable," from PIE *ster- "lacking, sterile," source also of Sanskrit starih "a barren cow," Greek steira "sterile, infertile" (of a cow, goat, woman), Armenian sterj "infertile," perhaps ultimately from root *ster- (1) "stiff." 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.