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

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

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 Though often pitted against each other as nature versus nurture, biology and experience are actually deeply entwined, and music provides a scientifically revealing intersection of the two. Quanta Magazine, "Perceptions of Musical Octaves Are Learned, Not Wired in the Brain," 30 Oct. 2019 With the mother, the whole lost world of order, nurture, and morality is invoked. Rachel Cusk, The New Yorker, "Françoise Sagan, the Great Interrogator of Morality," 21 Aug. 2019 What most people are aching for is a return to nature, nurture, and simplicity. Daisy Finer, Condé Nast Traveler, "Biomarkers, Sweat Lodges, and Shamans: Today's Wellness Retreats Go Far Beyond a Detox," 26 Aug. 2019 For now, Piper will continue to watch his loons in a pocket of northern Wisconsin, cheering for the family of five, marveling at the mallard who is in the midst of a nature vs. nurture struggle. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Loons in northern Wisconsin are raising a mallard duckling after they lost their own chick," 24 July 2019 Shane was blessed with the best nature and nurture could offer. Don Norcross, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Hydroplane champ raised to be a racer," 12 Sep. 2019 Siwa has an innate media savvy that calls up questions of nature vs. nurture. Jamie Lauren Keiles, Time, "'What Do People Want Me to Do? Wear Black Every Day?': How Child Star JoJo Siwa Built Her Sparkly Empire," 22 Aug. 2019 Top athletes, including Michael Jordan, Pelé, Jerry Rice and Wayne Gretzky, explore the importance of nature versus nurture in determining athletic ability. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week Sept. 15, 2019: ‘Alien,’ ‘Aliens’ and more," 13 Sep. 2019 Investment that comes from within, not from without, is the motivation behind a boot camp that will jump-start and nurture businesses in communities throughout Bristol Bay. Anchorage Daily News, "Bristol Bay boot camp aims to jump-start businesses through the region," 20 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Like the internet, blockchain is a powerful tool that can nurture freedom and competitive innovation, or reinforce concentrations of power. Wired, "Opinion: China is Pushing Toward Global Blockchain Dominance," 12 Nov. 2019 When each album was made, both bands were several years deep into major-label deals after leaving the independent scene that had nurtured them. Greg Kot,, "R.E.M., the Replacements and the albums that nearly broke them," 5 Nov. 2019 If Japan were to develop a domestic league that better nurtured and rewarded talent, and its national team faced regular tests against the world’s best, Japanese rugby would have a better chance of building on its impressive World Cup performance. B.f., The Economist, "Japan’s Rugby World Cup success was improbable. Can it keep it up?," 20 Oct. 2019 The trio's plan was to completely transform Wycombe Wanderers into an attractive club that can nurture and develop the very best young talent in England., "Consortium Including Dennis Bergkamp & Dirk Kuyt Made Sensational Bid to Buy Wycombe Wanderers," 9 Oct. 2019 To experience the world via our multiple senses like this has a chance to rescue us from stress, anxiety, and bring us back to that original form of play that nurtured our minds as small children. Letter Writers, Twin Cities, "Letters: Warner Nature Center doesn’t need a ‘reset’," 29 Sep. 2019 Ruth provided a loving home that nurtured her four boys and their friends., "Deaths in South Florida: 9/22," 22 Sep. 2019 The scope of the announcement stunned most of the industry, even big companies like Juul that have carefully nurtured relationships with policymakers to gain influence. Anchorage Daily News, "The vaping industry has close ties to Trump. His ban still caught them off guard.," 18 Sep. 2019 David Hosack’s vision was for a medical and agricultural research facility that would nurture his young nation. Time Staff, Time, "15 Unsung Moments From American History That Historians Say You Should Know About," 28 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

17 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for nurture

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

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More Definitions for nurture


How to pronounce nurture (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nurture

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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 speed up the process or progress of

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