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 nurture (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 nurture (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for nurture

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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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

Noun Members of the family helped in the nurture of the baby. Verb 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 Dysfunctional kids are coddled and encouraged to nurture grievances, while normal kids are attacked and educationally abused. R.r. Reno, WSJ, 7 June 2021 Some allies point to wider successes the movement has helped nurture as evidence of the group's importance. USA Today, 22 May 2021 There's always this debate of what's nature and what's nurture and, innately, women are known to be connectors, to crossover. Jill Griffin, Forbes, 5 Mar. 2021 At the heart of Rene’s approach is nature and nurture. Angelina Villa-clarke, Forbes, 11 May 2021 In the ’60s, with primatology a fashionable area of academic study, a University of Oklahoma psychologist and his wife, Maurice and Jane Temerlin, decided to raise a chimpanzee as a human being, as an experiment in nature vs. nurture. John Anderson, WSJ, 27 Apr. 2021 Megan Cain's green thumb can be credited to a combination of nature and nurture. Marisa Spyker, Southern Living, 15 Apr. 2021 Gershoff, a professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, set out to settle the question of nature vs. nurture with her newest study, published in the March volume of Psychological Science. Washington Post, 12 Apr. 2021 The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, founded in the wake of the September 11 attacks and its ensuing economic downturn, has a mission to support and nurture rising American talent. Steff Yotka, Vogue, 27 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Some people play instruments, some build dioramas of little snowy towns, and others use lots of UV lighting and water to nurture plants inside. Austin Irwin, Car and Driver, 8 June 2021 The seasonal downpours that soak the red dirt roads here nurture clouds of mosquitoes that spread malaria. Washington Post, 7 June 2021 Now more than ever, the responsibility falls on company leaders to nurture team culture, both online and in person. Jennifer Acree, Forbes, 7 June 2021 Domestic internet companies were largely left alone as China sought to nurture its own tech industry. Stephanie Yang, WSJ, 6 June 2021 His desire to nurture the same spirit led him to launch Black Ambition, a nonprofit initiative to support Black and Latinx entrepreneurs, in December. Alex Bhattacharji, Town & Country, 2 June 2021 Inaugurated in 1919 to nurture the city’s fledgling art scene, the exhibition provided a regular burst of attention for local artists within the august confines of the museum. Steven Litt, cleveland, 23 May 2021 But McLellan and his staff did well to assemble a penalty-killing unit that ranked among the NHL’s top 10 and to nurture Mikey Anderson and Tobias Bjornfot into top-four defensemen. Los Angeles Times, 19 May 2021 The Hilinskis now traverse the country lobbying for universities to donate resources to mental health initiatives and encouraging student-athletes to nurture their own mental health. Michelle Gardner, The Arizona Republic, 17 May 2021

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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Learn More About nurture

Time Traveler for nurture

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

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Last Updated

12 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nurture.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jun. 2021.

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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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