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

Jacques Colimon as Will Jacques will play foster kid Will, another outsider who will take advantage of the changing social situations in this new adult-free society. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Everything You Need to Know About Netflix's Newest Teen Drama "The Society"," 4 Apr. 2019 Miami-Dade police Detective Lee Cowart said a man and woman came to the 77-year-old foster mom's home Friday morning, shot her and took the children, ages 5 and 2. Fox News, "Foster mom shot; 2 snatched kids found with biological mom," 31 Aug. 2018 Thirteen percent of children in foster care have been in the system for more than three years. Naomi Schaefer Riley, WSJ, "Moving Kids From Foster Care to Adoption," 8 Mar. 2019 Photo by @jesspelphrey #pregnant #pregnancyannouncement #gendereveal #maternityphotography A post shared by Jen Lilley (@jen_lilley) on Mar 20, 2019 at 12:40pm PDT Their daughter joins the couple’s two sons via foster care. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Hallmark Star Jen Lilley Is Pregnant With Her First Daughter," 21 Mar. 2019 Salt Lake City There are 123,000 children in foster care waiting to be adopted, according to the latest U.S. government statistics. Naomi Schaefer Riley, WSJ, "Moving Kids From Foster Care to Adoption," 8 Mar. 2019 Jen and Sarah dropped their foster daughter at a therapist's office and never returned. Glamour, "Broken Harts, Episode 2: 'If Not Us, Who?'," 11 Dec. 2018 Once approved, the foster care agency or child care facility can arrange with the parents when and where to reunite with their children. Kaila White, azcentral, "What we know — and don't — about how immigrant family reunification works," 12 July 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Ugandan adoption requirements demanded that the soon-to-be-parents foster Willa in the country for a year, during which Lauren and Thomas frequently traveled abroad to further the process. Blair Donovan, Country Living, "Everything to Know About Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins' Adorable Kids," 7 Apr. 2019 The O’Neill Theatre is best known as one of the only theaters in America to openly foster young talent. Isiah Magsino, Vogue, "Lin-Manuel Miranda and More Honor John Logan at the 19th Annual Monte Cristo Awards," 24 Apr. 2019 Witches practice ancient and pagan traditions in countless ways (vodou, wicca, santería, and stregheria, to name a few) to empower themselves and others and to foster change in the world around them. Dianca London Potts, SELF, "8 Modern Witches Share Their Daily Beauty Rituals," 11 Apr. 2019 Mark Rothko died by suicide a year before the chapel opened in 1971, leaving his family and supporters to decide how best to foster his legacy in the face of the building’s subsidence, the city’s harsh sunlight, and humidity’s toll on his works. James Graff, WSJ, "The Push to Preserve a Rothko Masterpiece," 27 Feb. 2019 The workforce of both ICE and the DEA features agents who harbor a siege mentality, fostered by a culture of secrecy and resentment of oversight, and susceptible to corruption. Kathleen Frydl, Vox, "Why we should abolish ICE — and the DEA too," 14 Aug. 2018 Amid controversies around the culture fostered by college Greek life, fraternities and sororities have been reconsidering their membership requirements. Suzannah Weiss, Teen Vogue, "Harvard University Kappa Alpha Theta Chapter Announces It Will Be Gender Neutral," 26 July 2018 Since that time, fictive sisterhoods of all stripes (familial and otherwise) have been realized to wonderful effect, giving women the opportunity to commune and take up space in ways not always fostered by their surrounding culture. Marley Marius, Vogue, "8 Stirring Tales of Sisterhood Adapted From the Page to the Silver Screen (That Aren’t Greta Gerwig’s Little Women)," 13 July 2018 Community members can report violations to the Linux Foundation’s Technical Advisory Board or TAB, a 10-person committee that fosters communication between the community and the official Linux Foundation. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "With Linux’s founder stepping back, will the community change its culture?," 21 Sep. 2018

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

26 Apr 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).


a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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