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 foster (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 Foster (audio) , ˈfä-​ \ noun

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 The council also is considering extending Medicaid coverage for specific groups, such as pregnant mothers and parents of foster children. Nyamekye Daniel, Washington Examiner, "Health council weighs cost of Medicaid expansion in North Carolina," 11 Jan. 2021 Over the years, the couple took in foster children. Star Tribune, "Joan Dressen, co-founder of first Minneapolis chapter of PFLAG and champion of LGBT rights, dies at 86," 22 Dec. 2020 In the winter of 2016-2017, the number of foster children sleeping in state offices at least two consecutive nights per month tripled. Robert T. Garrett, Dallas News, "Abused, neglected children again sleeping in CPS offices in repeat of Texas foster care crisis," 18 Dec. 2020 Having cared for over 70 foster children in the last 19 years, Sal and Sav Forbes were more than deserving to win the Mom’s Club of Wellington’s Holiday Spirit Contest. Brett Shweky,, "Foster family’s home gets decked out for the holidays," 18 Dec. 2020 Sequel cares for more than 9,000 clients across the U.S., including foster children, children whose parents are unable to handle their behavior and children in the state’s juvenile justice system. NBC News, "A profitable 'death trap': Sequel youth facilities raked in millions while accused of abusing children," 16 Dec. 2020 The couple have a total of 11 children, including foster children. Lou Whitmire, USA TODAY, "'They were lucky': Ohio mother rescues 4 children from burning house, officials say," 9 Dec. 2020 One center offers overnight accommodations for foster children awaiting a placement. Vanessa Infanzon, Washington Post, "Foster parents need a village. This Austin mom gave them one.," 8 Dec. 2020 The morning after Election Day, in another case argued by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia is fighting for foster children there and, honestly, everywhere. Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review, "Can We Please Get Serious about Protecting Religious Freedom?," 2 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb It’s on Cristobal and his coaching staff to foster it before next season. John Canzano, oregonlive, "Canzano: Oregon Ducks fumble Fiesta Bowl opportunity and raise 2021 questions," 2 Jan. 2021 Americans rushed to adopt and foster pets in need amid the pandemic. Usa Today Staff, USA TODAY, "Good news in 2020? Yes, it's true! Here are 100 positive things that happened this year," 23 Dec. 2020 The Chinese embassy in Ottawa sees any politicization of economic co-operation as wrong, a spokesperson said by email late Tuesday, calling on the Canadian government to foster a fair market for all foreign investors. Steven Frank,, "Trudeau Shuts Out China Again by Rejecting Arctic Gold Deal," 22 Dec. 2020 In an effort to foster connections, Cockrell has created activities where parents and teachers can work out together after school. NBC News, "Educators saved him during a tough childhood. Now he's Missouri's teacher of the year.," 21 Dec. 2020 One key to success is convincing companies to foster these youths, Ms. Jansen said. Catherine Stupp, WSJ, "Dutch Program Aims to Deter Young Hackers Before They Commit Crimes," 21 Dec. 2020 Jack’s intervention is unnecessary because the Legislature has increased funding for and made improvements to foster care, Abbott and current Attorney General Ken Paxton have argued. Robert T. Garrett, Dallas News, "Texas faces $75,000-a-day fines after federal judge again finds state in contempt over foster care," 18 Dec. 2020 The sequence, which unfolded midway through the third quarter of the Warriors’ 113-109 preseason finale win over Sacramento at Golden 1 Center, typified the identity Golden State head coach Steve Kerr is trying to foster. Connor Letourneau,, "Warriors start to find identity as they end preseason with win over Kings," 17 Dec. 2020 Since 2010, more than $430 million in multiyear grants designed to foster cradle-to-career systems to combat generational poverty has been awarded in 17 cities. Washington Post, "As Harlem Children’s Zone moves to export its model nationwide, other city programs offer cautionary tales," 11 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for foster

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for foster

Last Updated

18 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Foster.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for foster


How to pronounce Foster (audio)

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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