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

The parents, both wearing orange jail garb, neither handcuffed, were surrounded by sheriff’s deputies Monday during the shelter hearing regarding the baby girl and AJ’s younger brother, 4, who also has been placed in foster care with a relative. Christy Gutowski,, "Ex-boyfriend of woman charged in death of her son, ‘AJ’ Freund, 5, hopes for ‘role’ in their newborn daughter’s life, lawyer says," 9 Sep. 2019 Although few students are in foster care, most have special-education needs and come from low-income families. Perry Stein, Washington Post, "The warnings about safety came for months. But regulators didn’t force Monument Academy to make changes.," 7 Sep. 2019 There are half a million children in foster care now. Nr Interview, National Review, "Honoring Foster Parents," 6 Sep. 2019 Born in Columbus, Biles and her three siblings were placed in foster care at a young age because their mother, Shannon Biles, struggled with addiction, The Washington Post previously reported. Chelsea White,, "Simone Biles Breaks Silence on Her Brother's Murder Arrest: 'My Heart Aches for Everyone Involved'," 3 Sep. 2019 Among them, 409 are children living with grandparents and 313 are children living in foster care, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count Data Center. Elizabeth Cohen And John Bonifield, CNN, "Babies exposed to drugs are kicked out of other daycares. They come here instead," 23 Aug. 2019 Growing up in foster care has also been linked to higher rates of teen pregnancy. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "15 Facts About Teen Pregnancy You Need to Know," 21 Aug. 2019 Jones was then placed in foster care, where she was temporarily named Crystal Alicia Fairchild, before she was adopted by Kay and Wayne of Palmetto, Georgia in April 1983 and renamed Amanda Jo. Joelle Goldstein,, "Woman Asks for Help in Identifying Her Rescuers Who Found Her in a Dumpster When She Was a Baby," 19 Aug. 2019 The little boy previously was in foster care, authorities said, but had been returned to his mother’s care. Mckenna Oxenden,, "Family says goodbye to 4-year old Baltimore boy with songs, praise and a comic book in a tearful service," 13 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Bookings aside, there are also specific moments that have fostered his reputation as the game’s chief villain, most notably his challenge on Mohamed Salah in the 2018 UEFA Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool. Luis Miguel Echegaray,, "Sergio Ramos Shows Off Another Side in His Amazon Docuseries," 11 Sep. 2019 Questers is an international organization that fosters appreciation of antiques and collectibles, and encourages preservation of antiquities and historical sites. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Group makes lap blankets to honor veterans," 9 Sep. 2019 Already in a recession, manufacturers added just 3,000 jobs in August, continuing a trend that's fostering concerns about the rest of the economy, not to mention President Donald Trump's re-election chances. Kate Gibson, CBS News, "U.S. manufacturing is in a recession. What does that mean for the rest of the country?," 6 Sep. 2019 Isolation is a strength in Alamosa and the San Luis Valley that fosters close community connections in some of Colorado’s oldest settlements. The Denver Post, "Post Premium: Our best stories for the week of Aug. 12-18," 18 Aug. 2019 Schools that fostered climates celebrating academic success and curiosity saw the largest gains: some students got another half a grade point or slightly more, and the likelihood of failure (a D or F average) fell by 8 percent. Lydia Denworth, Scientific American, "Debate Arises over Teaching “Growth Mindsets” to Motivate Students," 12 Aug. 2019 The craft will soar and hover over the icy moon’s surface—and land on it—in a search for the conditions and chemistry that could foster life. Alex Fox, Science | AAAS, "Top Stories: Monarchs that don’t migrate, Jason stays alive, and human organs in animals," 28 June 2019 But exercise can be a very powerful antidote—especially exercise that fosters social bonding. Andrew Merle, Quartzy, "The best type of exercise uses your body—and your brain," 17 June 2019 That’s a scenario that fosters diversification, as seen when species colonize islands today. Quanta Magazine, "Researchers Rethink the Ancestry of Complex Cells," 9 Apr. 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

13 Sep 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).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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