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

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 Now the question is whether the Rockies can fix their pitching going forward, play better defense and nurture young players like Brendan Rodgers and Ryan McMahon. Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post, "Rockies Mailbag: Colorado’s postseason dreams are a mirage," 30 July 2019 This new research also reconfirms the long established understanding that there is no conclusive degree to which nature or nurture influence how a gay or lesbian person behaves.’’ There are limitations to the new research. Lindsey Bever,, "There’s no ‘gay gene,’ but genetics are linked to same-sex behavior, new study says," 29 Aug. 2019 Or whether sense of place is more a result of nature or nurture. Rob Hubbard, Twin Cities, "Review: Gremlin’s ‘Samuel J. and K.’ is a sibling story that needs more rivalry," 14 July 2019 Because of both nature and nurture, some children are slower to become empathic than others. Meghan Leahy, Washington Post, "How much empathy can I expect from a 5-year-old?," 12 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Previously progressive on drug policy, Rockefeller nurtured national ambitions, and sought to toughen his image by imposing harsh penalties for possession of even small quantities of drugs, including marijuana. Andrew Cockburn, Harper's magazine, "Power of Attorney," 16 Sep. 2019 Agents have nurtured a strong loyalty to the president, whom many of them see as the first chief executive who is serious about border security. New York Times, "‘People Actively Hate Us’: Inside the Border Patrol’s Morale Crisis," 15 Sep. 2019 Be nurturing not only to yourself but also to the other party., "HAPPY BIRTHDAY," 14 Sep. 2019 Working as both artist-in-residence and programmer at the storefront venue, Hadero got invaluable first-hand experience in the way a performance space can engage with a neighborhood and nurture a creative scene. Andrew Gilbert, The Mercury News, "YBCA names rising star in Bay Area arts scene to key curating post," 11 Sep. 2019 As Napa Valley's only organic herbal tea grower and one of a small group nationally, Annie Favia-Erickson nurtures herbs on just a few acres of land surrounded by neighbors' vineyards. Sheryl Jean, Dallas News, "A small organic herbal tea farm flourishes in Northern California wine country," 28 Aug. 2019 Western culture has cultivated an idealized expectation that all parents should be caring, nurturing, patient and above all else, ever-present. Washington Post, "Parental guilt is a cultural epidemic. It’s time to let go of who we ‘should’ be.," 21 Aug. 2019 These rulers passionately nurtured mosaic art, the results of which are beautifully preserved within eight UNESCO World Heritage monuments in the pedestrian-only city center. Prathap Nair, National Geographic, "Visit Italy’s mesmerizing city of mosaics," 20 Aug. 2019 So is Joe really nurturing a generation of smarter, healthier, more worldly men, or an army of conspiracy theorists and alt-right super soldiers? Devin Gordon, The Atlantic, "I Tried to Live Like Joe Rogan," 19 Aug. 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

7 Oct 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

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