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

And that’s the reason why some of our foster kids are so angry and hurt and traumatized. Scott Huddleston,, "County trying to keep at-risk families intact," 15 Sep. 2019 Recently, the group was able to close down an Old Navy store where 400 foster kids were each given $100 gift cards to spend for back to school clothes. Johnny Diaz,, "Ellen DeGeneres and Kris and Kylie Jenner surprise Miami women’s group with a lot of money," 10 Sep. 2019 International orphans are similar to local foster kids in some ways, according to MN Adopt’s Walstad. Jasmine Johnson, Twin Cities, "Minnesota adoptions falling. International adoptions most affected.," 31 Aug. 2019 Weaving plays Grace, a foster kid who yearns for family, who marries Alex Le Domas, the scion of a wealthy family that built its fortune on games. Mark Kennedy, Houston Chronicle, "A memorably horrific wedding night in ‘Ready or Not’," 20 Aug. 2019 The mercurial Bishop was a foster kid and his relationship with girlfriend Sophia (Emma Rigby) is falling apart. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Bulletproof': TV Review," 6 Aug. 2019 Gideon and Jeanne targeted foster care kids and at-risk youth. CBS News, "Blaze Bernstein murder: Was an Ivy League student slain in the name of hate?," 20 July 2019 The result has opened up job opportunities for other foster kids. Mary Jo Pitzl, Arizona Republic, "Faces of Child Welfare| Christy Moore: Fostering job growth at a Phoenix laundromat," 22 June 2019 The girl, now 3, has been removed from foster care and is living in Queensland with a paternal aunt along with her two siblings. Fox News, "Vegan Australian parents spared jail after ‘completely inadequate’ diet left baby malnourished," 22 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

For the sport’s practitioners in the Bay Area and Santa Cruz, relationships are fostered by the beauty and challenging cold-water conditions in local diving areas, Cooper said. Ethan Baron, The Mercury News, "Dive boat tragedy spreads grief, fear through region’s tightly knit dive community," 8 Sep. 2019 Ruth's other lifetime love was for the Opera, fostered in her youth by a family tradition of coming together to listen to the Metropolitan Opera on Sunday afternoons., "Ruth Beede," 5 Sep. 2019 As tech enterprises release new projects, T-shirts are de rigueur for fostering esprit de corps among team members. Carolyn Said,, "It’s free. It’s fun. Why Silicon Valley loves swag — and how it’s changing," 21 July 2019 The group is all about fostering conversations that are insightful, informative, and productive. Robert Khederian, Curbed, "The United States of Texas and California, a new Facebook group about the states’ big issues," 10 Aug. 2018 Beyond simply avoiding losses, the report says, these investments can lead to economic growth by fostering innovation and providing greater security. Nicholas Kusnetz,, "Benefits of investing in climate adaptation far outweigh costs, commission says," 11 Sep. 2019 The effort comes in response to an Air Force Space Command vision of fostering commercial space launch partnerships. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: Cause of Vega failure found, China seeks rocket customers," 6 Sep. 2019 In the city of the future, all functions will be decentralized,’’ said Peter Grubstein, Founder and Managing Member of NGEN, an investment firm that focuses on fostering the growth of sustainable cities. Robert Horn, Fortune, "Want to Design a Truly Sustainable City? Look to the Galaxy," 5 Sep. 2019 But one of this year’s budget priorities, on energy and the environment, goes far beyond previous memos that focused on fostering energy independence. Jeffrey Mervis, Science | AAAS, "New memo offers first glimpse of how Trump’s science adviser would like to shape spending priorities," 4 Sep. 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

11 Oct 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

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