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

Definition of foster

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having, relating to, or being the relationship between a foster parent and the child who the foster parent cares for Although both girls lived with Ms. Ayala, Millison was the only one who was officially placed in her care as a foster child.— Ian Fisher Twenty-three foster children now have a place to call home and family of their own following the Adoption Day at the Williamson County Courthouse in Marion on Friday.— Holly Kee a foster mother/father her new foster brother/sister living with a foster family children in foster care foster parenting the foster system
2 : being, relating to, or involved in a situation in which temporary care is given to an animal (such as one that is injured or awaiting adoption) in a household or similar setting foster pets a foster dog/cat/puppy/kitten found foster placements for the animals For the past year, Melbourne social impact strategy consultant Lee Crockford has been a foster dad to Romeo, an adorable Labrador puppy and future seeing eye dog.— Shannon Molloy

— see also foster home


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

Definition of foster (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to act as a foster parent to (a child) The couple said they get … updates and pictures from all the children they've fostered.— Patrick Edrich
b : to provide temporary care to (an animal that is injured, homeless, etc.) in a household or similar setting … it's just her luck she'd find a partner who not only adores dogs but fosters them for a Sacramento animal shelter.— Gina Kim
2 : to promote the growth or development of : encourage policies that foster cooperation a lack of communication that fostered distrust Grilling meat fosters the formation of potentially cancer-causing heterocyclic amines …— J. Raloff The dead grass rotted in the warm water, releasing nutrients that fostered algae.— Carl Hiaasen

Other Words from foster


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

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 Such exorcisms take time, especially when past policies and attitudes fostered — and, most unfortunately, foster still — racist ideas among some church followers. Gordon Monson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 24 Sep. 2022 Its mission is to provide children a place to find healing and inspiration in nature, form meaningful friendships, become more responsible, and foster pride in their country. Andrea Stanley, The Atlantic, 30 Aug. 2022 On its website, The Humane Society wrote its shelter and rescue partners plan to place the dogs into foster and adoptive homes. Edward Segarra, USA TODAY, 25 Aug. 2022 The grants help folks facing challenges from food insecurity, social isolation and behavioral health issues, and support health literacy efforts and foster healthy living. San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 Aug. 2022 Since 2008, the foundation has fought to end pet homelessness and foster adoptions by awarding over 5,700 grants. Kelli Bender, Peoplemag, 22 Aug. 2022 If successful, investors will earn strong returns, but more importantly, the investments will jumpstart the economy, create desperately need jobs and incomes, and foster optimism about the region’s economic future. Wayne Winegarden, Forbes, 17 Aug. 2022 If a family has foster children living with them and wishes to apply for such meals or milk for them, contact the school for more information. Ed Wittenberg, cleveland, 3 Aug. 2022 In the winter of 2019, Anderson, a mother and foster parent, got a prescription from her doctor for the morning-after pill ella after her primary birth control method, a condom, failed, according to the lawsuit. Lindsey Bever, Washington Post, 3 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Regardless of turnout, Smith’s intention is to foster healing for the families of the victims and for Detroit communities impacted by ongoing gun violence. Detroit Free Press, 8 Sep. 2022 Founded in 2000, the National Design Awards’ purpose is to foster public knowledge, and to shine a spotlight on how innovative design can change everyday life. Ellen Wexler, Smithsonian Magazine, 7 Sep. 2022 Beyond safety for pedestrians, one of the main goals of the project is to foster a sense of connectivity through the neighborhood corridor, which was cut in half when I-70 was built. Kayla Dwyer, The Indianapolis Star, 7 Sep. 2022 The case illustrates a broader debate over whether local prosecutors can fairly handle cases involving police officers, and when independent oversight — such as appointing a special prosecutor — is necessary to foster public confidence. Shelley Murphy,, 13 Aug. 2022 The nonprofit’s mission is to foster peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation. Linda Mcintosh, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Aug. 2022 My goal is to foster better communications with the citizens and bring them back to the council meetings. Sam Kmack, The Arizona Republic, 6 July 2022 The mission of the Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank is to foster literacy and a love of reading by distributing free books to children in need through collaboration with community organizations. Carol Kovach, cleveland, 28 June 2022 The overall vision is to foster a stronger, walkable connection between Bushnell Park, the nearby hospital district and Park Street, extending beyond to Colt Park. Hartford Courant, 16 June 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of foster


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th 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

Learn More About foster

Time Traveler for foster

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near foster




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for foster

Last Updated

27 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Foster.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Oct. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for foster


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 He fosters a sense of caring.



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


transitive verb
fostered; fostering

Legal Definition of foster (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give parental care to

Foster biographical name (1)

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

Definition of Foster

 (Entry 1 of 2)

Stephen Collins 1826–1864 American songwriter


biographical name (2)

Definition of Foster (Entry 2 of 2)

William Z(ebulon) 1881–1961 American Communist

More from Merriam-Webster on foster

Nglish: Translation of foster for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of foster for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!