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


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

transitive verb

: 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
: 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
: 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
fosterer 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
Sabbaticals can also help foster creativity and innovation. Emily Bancroft, Forbes, 28 Nov. 2023 Under the Biden plan, Arizona would likely have to find other ways of funding its aggressive child protective services investigations of poor parents and use welfare dollars to help families stay together rather than removing their kids into foster care. Eli Hager, ProPublica, 28 Nov. 2023 Her foster mother, with the support of government social workers, sought a hysterectomy to manage her periods. Sarah Hurtes, New York Times, 25 Nov. 2023 By embracing flexibility and inclusivity in return-to-work strategies, employers can mitigate legal risks, foster employee engagement, and build a more inclusive and productive work environment. Gleb Tsipursky, Fortune, 22 Nov. 2023 As with previous years, some of the proceeds from each Frosty Key Tag support the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, a charity finding permanent homes for children in foster care. Sabrina Weiss, Peoplemag, 17 Nov. 2023 There’s also a bananas foster flambé in that segment, which was so stressful to shoot, because working with live fire on set can be tense. Los Angeles Times Staff, Los Angeles Times, 17 Nov. 2023 Instant camera While many new moms grapple with postpartum struggles while caring for newborn children, there’s another demographic adjusting to parenthood for the first time: adoptive and foster moms. Grace Smith,, 9 Nov. 2023 Michael and his siblings were placed once more in foster care. Jessica Sager, Peoplemag, 9 Nov. 2023
Promoting diverse financing models can diversify risks, making climate investments more bankable and attractive, potentially accelerating the pace of climate finance and enhancing its effectiveness in fostering sustainable development. Nina Seega, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 At the same time students have been looking for a path forward -- trying to foster dialogue and dial back the tensions. Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, 29 Nov. 2023 And while scientists gather more data on potential longevity drugs, there are steps that dog owners can now take to foster healthier aging, experts said, including keeping their dogs lean and providing ample exercise and mental stimulation. Emily Anthes, New York Times, 28 Nov. 2023 Vincent is a member of the ASC Board of Governors and a founding member of the Society’s Vision Committee for fostering diversity and inclusion. Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Nov. 2023 The World Creole Music Festival serves as a platform for these various musical styles and influences to come together, fostering a celebration of cultural diversity within the Creole music tradition. Melissa Noel, Essence, 28 Nov. 2023 From luxurious skincare essentials to soothing aromatherapy items, this collection promises to elevate the holiday experience by fostering a sense of well-being. Samantha Booth, Rolling Stone, 27 Nov. 2023 The new San Diego Police Department chief will bear the responsibility of shaping law enforcement policy, fostering community engagement, ensuring officer accountability and keeping the public safe. Lyndsay Winkley, San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 Nov. 2023 The initiative is part of a new three-year pilot program for series co-productions launched by the Council of Europe, aimed at empowering independent producers and fostering new relationships in the creation and production of high-quality series made as international co-productions. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 17 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'foster.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Adjective and Verb

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

First Known Use


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


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near foster

Cite this Entry

“Foster.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
fos·​ter ˈfȯs-tər How to pronounce foster (audio)
: giving, receiving, or sharing parental care even though not related by blood or legal ties
foster parent
foster child


2 of 2 verb
fostered; fostering -t(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce foster (audio)
: to give parental care to
: to help the growth or development of
fosterer noun

Legal Definition


1 of 2 adjective
: affording, receiving, or sharing nurture or parental care though not related by blood or legal relationships
a foster child
a foster parent


2 of 2 transitive verb
fostered; fostering
: to give parental care to

Biographical Definition

Foster 1 of 2

biographical name (1)

Fos·​ter ˈfȯ-stər How to pronounce Foster (audio)
Stephen Collins 1826–1864 American songwriter


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biographical name (2)

William Z(ebulon) 1881–1961 American Communist

More from Merriam-Webster on foster

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