nur·​ture | \ ˈnər-chər How to pronounce nurture (audio) \

Definition of nurture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : training, upbringing With proper focus during early nurture, one can grow into a secure being …— Ella Pearson Mitchell
2 : something that nourishes : food … fed him well, and nourished himself, and took nurture for the road …— R. D. Blackmore
3 : the sum of the environmental factors influencing the behavior and traits expressed by an organism Is our character affected more by nature or by nurture?


nurtured; nurturing\ ˈnərch-​riŋ How to pronounce nurturing (audio) , ˈnər-​chə-​ \

Definition of nurture (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to supply with nourishment care for and nurture a baby
2 : educate nurture kids in clean, colorful rooms with the latest books and learning gadgets.— Sue Shellenbarger
3 : to further the development of : foster nurture his intellectual inclinations.— Ray Olson nurture a friendship

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Other Words from nurture


nurturer \ ˈnər-​chər-​ər How to pronounce nurturer (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for nurture

Synonyms: Verb

advance, cultivate, encourage, forward, foster, further, incubate, nourish, nurse, promote

Antonyms: Verb

discourage, frustrate, hinder, inhibit

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Did You Know?


It's no coincidence that nurture is a synonym of nourish-both are derived from the Latin verb nutrire, meaning "to suckle" or "to nourish." The noun nurture first appeared in English in the 14th century, but the verb didn't arrive until the 15th century. Originally, the verb nurture meant "to feed or nourish." The sense meaning "to promote the development of" didn't come into being until the end of the 18th century. Mary Wollstonecraft, mother of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, is credited with first giving life to that sense in her Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792): "Public spirit must be nurtured by private virtue." Other nutrire descendants in English include nutrient, nutritious, nutriment, nutrition, and, of course, nourishment.

Examples of nurture in a Sentence


Members of the family helped in the nurture of the baby.


Teachers should nurture their students' creativity. a professor who nurtures any student who shows true interest in history The study looks at the ways parents nurture their children. You have to carefully nurture the vines if you want them to produce good grapes. She nurtured a secret ambition to be a singer.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Children in America have long represented our humane beliefs in the promise of good treatment and careful nurture. Paula Fass, Time, "If You're Shocked by Reports on Children at the Border, You Haven't Paid Attention to American History," 11 July 2019 Their theory was that nurture (education, socialization, family structure) matters little because nature is determinative. George F. Will, The Denver Post, "George Will: Last century’s immigration debate makes today’s seem enlightened," 30 June 2019 The triplets, born in 1961, were placed with three families — one upper class, one middle, one working — by the now-defunct Louise Wise Agency as part of a study about nature vs. nurture by the Child Development Center. Washington Post, "Documentary tells dark tale of triplets separated at birth," 28 June 2018 Big Littles Lies’s second season, since the very first episode, has been playing with the theme of nurture over nature, and how our parents shape who their children become. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Big Little Lies season 2, episode 3 recap: Hail Renata, the Medusa of Monterey," 24 June 2019 Killebrew will try to make a national team Saturday night in the under-20 USA Championships at Miramar, Fla. Years ahead of her age Killebrew’s rise is an outcome of ambition, nature and nurture. David Woods, Indianapolis Star, "Meet Semira Killebrew — the fastest teenage girl in Indiana history," 20 June 2019 But while nature is a major part of the equation, nurture is just as much of a driving force. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "14 Beauty Experts on the Lessons They’ve Learned From Their Mothers," 11 May 2019 Willibald Ruch, a personality researcher at the University of Zurich, coauthored a 2014 study explicitly investigating the nature versus nurture humor divide. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "Would Your Clone Have the Same Sense of Humor?," 9 Apr. 2019 Here, the memory of its prior purpose merges with the promise, mostly metaphorical, of a new function, in support of this stirring show’s assertion that acts of nurture and nationhood, art and humanity are profoundly linked. Matt Cooper,, "The week ahead at SoCal museums, July 8-15: 'Solar Reserve' at LACMA and more," 7 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Lueck has been remembered as a bubbly, nurturing person. CBS News, "Tech worker charged with murder in death of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck," 10 July 2019 Lueck has been remembered as a bubbly, nurturing person. Washington Post, "Tech worker charged with murder in death of college student," 10 July 2019 Lueck has been remembered as a bubbly, nurturing person. Author: Lindsay Whitehurst, Anchorage Daily News, "Utah police say body of slain college student recovered," 6 July 2019 Lueck has been remembered as a bubbly, nurturing person was a member of a sorority and a part-time senior at the University of Utah studying kinesiology and pre-nursing. Lindsay Whitehurst,, "Police say body of slain Utah college student recovered in canyon," 5 July 2019 Lueck has been remembered as a bubbly, nurturing person. Lindsay Whitehurst,, "Utah police say body of slain college student recovered," 5 July 2019 The Argentine has plenty of experience working with young players, having nurtured the likes of Davinson Sanchez, Juan Foyth and Harry Winks., "William Saliba Targeted by Tottenham as Arsenal's £27m Bid Is Rejected by Saint-Etienne," 26 June 2019 Perry is most famous for his Madea character, an older, wise-cracking, and tough, but nurturing woman based on his mother and aunt. Shauna Stuart |,, "Watch Tyler Perry’s inspiring BET Awards speech honoring black women, history of his Atlanta studio," 24 June 2019 The team argues that dogs evolved muscles that allow for more pronounced facial expressions over thousands of years of domestication because these looks generate a nurturing feeling in humans. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Why you think your dog loves you," 18 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nurture.' 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 nurture


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nurture

Noun and Verb

Middle English norture, nurture, from Anglo-French nureture, from Late Latin nutritura act of nursing, from Latin nutritus, past participle of nutrire to suckle, nourish — more at nourish

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Statistics for nurture

Last Updated

14 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for nurture

The first known use of nurture was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for nurture



English Language Learners Definition of nurture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

formal : the care and attention given to someone or something that is growing or developing



English Language Learners Definition of nurture (Entry 2 of 2)

: to help (something or someone) to grow, develop, or succeed
: to take care of (someone or something that is growing or developing) by providing food, protection, a place to live, etc.
: to hold (something, such as an idea or a strong feeling) in your mind for a long time


nur·​ture | \ ˈnər-chər How to pronounce nurture (audio) \

Kids Definition of nurture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the way a person or animal was raised : upbringing
2 : something (as food) that is essential to healthy growth and development


nurtured; nurturing

Kids Definition of nurture (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to provide with things (as food and protection) essential to healthy growth and development He was nurtured by loving parents.
2 : to further the development of The teacher nurtured the students' creativity.

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More from Merriam-Webster on nurture

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nurture

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nurture

Spanish Central: Translation of nurture

Nglish: Translation of nurture for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nurture for Arabic Speakers

Comments on nurture

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to complain fretfully

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