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


Such conditions foster the spread of the disease. Would you consider fostering a child?

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Michael is a father of six children, five of them adopted from foster care. Megan Friedman, Good Housekeeping, "Simon Cowell Was Moved to Tears During Michael Ketterer's Performance on ‘America’s Got Talent’," 29 Aug. 2018 The process to adopt a child from foster care requires training, interviews, and home visits to determine if adoption is right for you, and if so, to help connect you with a child or sibling group that your family will be a good match for., "Jonathan and Violette both love playing outside," 14 July 2018 Also, lawmakers funded Bevin’s requests for more money to hire more prosecutors, more public defenders, and increases for programs that place foster children, abused and neglected children in the homes of relatives. Tom Loftus, The Courier-Journal, "Matt Bevin's veto of budget bill overridden by full legislature," 13 Apr. 2018 One reason may be that foster and adoptive parents aren’t aware of them. Naomi Schaefer Riley, WSJ, "The White House Can Help Foster Kids," 9 Dec. 2018 By December, a state work group will submit its own list of recommendations to the Washington Legislature to close the academic achievement gaps for foster and homeless students by 2027. Neal Morton, The Seattle Times, "Washington’s homeless students face steep academic struggles," 2 Oct. 2018 Steppe and his team of eight part-time mentors and music and video producers work six days a week with mostly teens ages 14 to 18 who are in homeless shelters, foster care and the juvenile justice system. Pam Kragen,, "David's Harp strikes a note with at-risk teens," 30 May 2018 Glenn’s foundation, the Brighter Generation Foundation, delivers supplies, resources and access to education for homeless and foster children. Clarence E. Hill Jr., star-telegram, "Former Cowboys and Buckeyes raising money for Terry Glenn and Ron Springs foundations | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 16 May 2018 Little is known about the children’s lives in Texas because foster care records are confidential and court documents regarding adoption are generally sealed. Allie Morris, San Antonio Express-News, "Six children involved in fatal California crash adopted from Houston-area," 6 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Floridas’ work advocates for the importance of cultivating urban environments that foster creative growth and innovation. Mosha Lundström Halbert, Vogue, "The Cool Girl’s Guide to Toronto," 27 Dec. 2018 Since our founding, we’ve been committed to a culture that fosters the respectful treatment of everyone. Marci Robin, Allure, "McDonald's Workers Plan to Strike to Bring Attention to Sexual Harassment Concerns," 14 Sep. 2018 Unwilling to enact labour and land-acquisition reforms that might foster larger firms, the Indian government is instead shielding its industry from foreign competition. The Economist, "Sluggish exports leave India needing to curry favour with investors," 10 May 2018 Yet the Challenger legacy continues to foster interest in space exploration, science, and engineering among new generations. Margaret Lazarus Dean, Popular Mechanics, "The Oral History of the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster," 28 Jan. 2019 That effort, coupled with the recent government push to foster the development of companies dedicated to electric and hybrid cars, helped build up enough knowledge and momentum to give birth to companies like NIO and Xpeng. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "Tesla’s competition for the Model Y is growing quickly in China," 21 Dec. 2018 Last December the Ohio Attorney General's Office provided money to Cuyahoga, Summit and Stark counties to fund a full-time staff member dedicated to foster family recruitment efforts because of the crisis. Karen Farkas,, "Cuyahoga County seeking foster parents as the number of children in custody increase," 3 May 2018 Today in Boston, Gates announced a $12-million initiative to foster the development of a vaccine effective against all flu strains. Steve Mirsky, Scientific American, "Bill Gates Announces a Universal Flu Vaccine Effort," 27 Apr. 2018 Low-Hanging Fruit Amadeus is officially called a Global Distributed Systems (GDS), and is one of three that fosters communication between airlines and various players in the travel industry. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "A Hacker Exposed the Ancient Flaw That Makes Airlines So Hackable," 17 Jan. 2019

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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Dictionary Entries near foster







foster care

Statistics for foster

Last Updated

15 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for foster

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

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More Definitions for foster



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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More from Merriam-Webster on foster

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with foster

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for foster

Spanish Central: Translation of foster

Nglish: Translation of foster for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of foster for Arabic Speakers

Comments on foster

What made you want to look up foster? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to corrupt or become corrupted

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