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 Israel trips the local women took were part of the movement’s year-long journey designed to empower women to connect to Jewish values, engage with Israel, take action, and foster unity. Sergio Carmona,, "Palm Beach County Jewish women take impactful journeys to Israel," 9 Aug. 2019 The mission of the Fire Safe Council of San Diego County is to provide education, enhance information, and foster fire prevention and fire safety within the county Visit to learn more. Ramona Sentinel, "Workshop to focus on wildfires in high-risk areas," 9 Aug. 2019 The department presented the first draft of its guidelines during a quarterly meeting with private agencies that place abused and neglected children in foster and adoptive homes. NBC News, "New Kansas governor brings sharp shift on LGBTQ foster kids," 6 Aug. 2019 An annual gathering of current and former foster youth has a rap music theme this year. USA TODAY, "Milestone rhino, Bigfoot shooting, jailed for feeding cats: News from around our 50 states," 1 Aug. 2019 OhioGuidestone is an organization that helps local families through foster care, counseling, addiction recovery and skill development services. Hannah Drown,, "Indians players, wives help with shopping spree for OhioGuidestone students," 1 Aug. 2019 Many want to abolish the death penalty, redirect resources toward education and mental health services, and foster trust between minority communities and the police. Seamus Kirst, Teen Vogue, "These Progressive Prosecutors Want to Reshape Justice in Major American Cities," 29 July 2019 Inflated predator numbers brought about by free roaming cats does not foster balance in any way. Cori Brown,, "Cori Brown: Will we learn before it’s too late?," 27 July 2019 The Child Welfare Information Gateway offers articles that help explain respite foster programs. Christopher Dawson, CNN, "How to be the hero a foster child needs," 23 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Families in areas where no shelter exists will be forced to live in substandard and/or overcrowded conditions, known to foster higher degrees of domestic violence and substance abuse. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, "Capital budget vetoes leave gap for homelessness services in Anchorage, and further closures are possible," 15 Aug. 2019 The initiative tries to foster positive change in communities nationwide, said. Darran Simon, CNN, "Jay-Z's Roc Nation and NFL join forces for music and social justice," 14 Aug. 2019 Gentoo penguins Sphen and Magic, collectively known as Sphengic, of Sydney Aquarium were given the chance to foster a real egg in October 2018. Robyn Merrett,, "Gay Penguins Skipper and Ping Called 'Exemplary Parents' After Adopting Abandoned Egg in Berlin Zoo," 13 Aug. 2019 Orlando and safeties coach Craig Naivar have emphasized cross-training as a way to foster familiarity with unfamiliar positions and help non-starters find another way onto the field in these third-down packages. Nick Moyle,, "Longhorns’ youthful secondary will be front and center in 2019," 12 Aug. 2019 But an escape room is built to foster an intense feeling of connection, a hyperdose of concentrated intimacy. Rachel Sugar, Vox, "In a chaotic world, escape rooms make sense.," 7 Aug. 2019 By updating state law, Myers hopes to foster healthier, more protective and more diverse workplaces. William Langhorne, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Representative introduces act which could end hair discrimination in Wisconsin," 1 Aug. 2019 Political Braun served as chief technologist in 2010, back when the Obama administration created NASA's Space Technology program to foster just this kind of innovation in America's private space industry. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "NASA agrees to work with SpaceX on orbital refueling technology," 31 July 2019 Female bottlenoses have been known to kidnap calves of other species—likely in an attempt to foster unfulfilled maternal instincts—but such relationships rarely last. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Researchers Document First Known Case of Dolphin Mom Adopting Whale Calf," 31 July 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

16 Aug 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).


not constant or steady

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