fos·​ter | \ ˈfȯ-stər How to pronounce foster (audio) , ˈfä- \

Definition of foster

 (Entry 1 of 4)

: affording, receiving, or sharing nurture or parental care though not related by blood or legal ties They are foster parents to three foster children.


fostered; fostering\ ˈfȯ-​st(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce fostering (audio) , ˈfä-​ \

Definition of foster (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

1 : to give parental care to : nurture They are considering fostering a child.
2 : to promote the growth or development of : encourage fostered the college in its early years policies that foster competition


biographical name (1)
Fos·​ter | \ ˈfȯ-stər How to pronounce Foster (audio) , ˈfä- \

Definition of Foster (Entry 3 of 4)

Stephen Collins 1826–1864 American songwriter


biographical name (2)

Definition of Foster (Entry 4 of 4)

William Z(ebulon) 1881–1961 American Communist

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Other Words from foster


fosterer \ ˈfȯ-​stər-​ər How to pronounce fosterer (audio) , ˈfä-​ \ noun

Examples of foster in a Sentence

Verb Such conditions foster the spread of the disease. Would you consider fostering a child?
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Children's Protective Services is contacted if the newborn needs to be placed in foster care after the investigation. Slone Terranella, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit police: Man slips away after leaving newborn baby at Sinai-Grace Hospital," 11 Sep. 2020 The aluminum cans are going to ARF, pop tabs to Maryssa’s Mission, bedtime bags to children in foster care and animal treats and toys to ARF and Vader. cleveland, "Berea Girl Scout project supports local non-profits, businesses: Community Voices," 10 Sep. 2020 Is being a runaway (and staying with my family or another) better than foster care or abuse, if those are her options? Kwame Anthony Appiah, New York Times, "As a University Spokesman, Can I Promote a Reopening Plan I Question?," 8 Sep. 2020 From foster care to football star:How this DeSales star shaped himself into a DI recruit Jason Frakes: 502-582-4046;; Twitter: @kyhighs. Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky Class 2A high school football: Top teams, players and preseason coaches rankings," 8 Sep. 2020 Our most pressing need is for temporary foster homes for our cats and kittens. Dallas News, "Feral Friends Community Cat Alliance," 6 Sep. 2020 Children who are removed from their family homes due to neglect or abuse are placed in either foster homes or group settings. Arizona Republic, "What state Department of Child Safety must do to fix foster care, end a class-action lawsuit," 4 Sep. 2020 He was returned to the animal rescue a few years later and was placed in foster care. Claudia Harmata,, "St. Louis Shelter Dog Finally Finds Forever Home After 1,250 Days in Foster Care," 31 Aug. 2020 The other three babies in our group had been in foster care. Debra Hale-shelton, Arkansas Online, "A long, loving journey to parenthood," 30 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Such rules would free journalism from the Google and Facebook duopoly, prevent dominant firms from entrenching market power through mergers and acquisitions, and foster a competitive environment where firms instead invest in innovation. Daniel Hanley, Wired, "Ad Mergers Won't Save Journalism. Strict Merger Rules Would," 10 Sep. 2020 Colleagues also cited his dedication to the Fed as an example of how the institution has attracted people who foster a distinct culture committed to nonpolitical, technical analysis. Nick Timiraos, WSJ, "Thomas Laubach, a Top Adviser to Federal Reserve Chairman, Dies," 3 Sep. 2020 With that in mind, here are four steps that corporate leaders can take to foster a better environment. René Germain, Fortune, "Too many diversity initiatives are neglecting junior Black employees. We can fix that," 19 Aug. 2020 Schools have put myriad protocols in place to foster a safe environment. Star Tribune, "Path forward has turned college football season into chaos," 11 Aug. 2020 With Helen LaKelly Hunt, daughter of H.L. Hunt, Maura and 17 diverse women movers in Dallas created a foundation that would foster meaningful systemic change for girls, women and families. Jane Sumner, Dallas News, "Maura McNiel, longtime leader of the Dallas feminist movement, dies at 99," 8 Aug. 2020 These reforms, intended to foster a more racially and culturally inclusive environment on a campus, come in response to a joint letter released by student-athletes June 12. Nick Moyle,, "Texas responds to student-athletes’ call for change," 13 July 2020 And the presence of TV crews may foster a culture that prizes riskier policing behavior, even when cameras aren’t rolling, said Mary Beth Oliver, a Pennsylvania State University professor, who has studied the effects of reality TV cop shows. Julie Chang And Tony Plohetski, USA TODAY, "As Live PD fame increased, deputies in a Texas sheriff's office chased more," 27 Aug. 2020 The recovering meadows of hip-high grasses foster a botanical garden of blooming plants. Mare Czinar, The Arizona Republic, "3 Flagstaff summer hikes with mountain views and fields of flowers: Here's how to do them," 21 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'foster.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of foster


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above


12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for foster

Adjective and Verb

Middle English, from Old English fōstor-, from fōstor food, feeding; akin to Old English fōda food

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Time Traveler for foster

Time Traveler

The first known use of foster was before the 12th century

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Statistics for foster

Last Updated

14 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Foster.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for foster


How to pronounce Foster (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of foster

 (Entry 1 of 2)

used to describe a situation in which for a period of time a child lives with and is cared for by people who are not the child's parents



English Language Learners Definition of foster (Entry 2 of 2)

: to help (something) grow or develop
: to provide the care that a parent usually gives to a child : to be or become the foster parent of a child


fos·​ter | \ ˈfȯ-stər How to pronounce foster (audio) \

Kids Definition of foster

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: giving, receiving, or offering parental care even though not related by blood or legal ties a foster parent a foster child a foster home


fostered; fostering

Kids Definition of foster (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to give parental care to
2 : to help the growth and development of We're trying to foster a sense of responsibility.



Legal Definition of foster

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: affording, receiving, or sharing nurture or parental care though not related by blood or legal relationships a foster child a foster parent
fostered; fostering

Legal Definition of foster (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give parental care to

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