Foster | Definition of Foster by Merriam-Webster


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

Verb Such conditions foster the spread of the disease. Would you consider fostering a child?
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Another recent need: Anthem found some foster children covered by Medicaid at home without tools for online learning and arranged to get them Chromebooks. Deborah Yetter, The Courier-Journal, "Passport, other Medicaid plans seeking out people most at risk if they contract COVID-19," 15 May 2020 In December, the foundation for foster children was gifted a beautiful 48-acre mountain estate in Fayetteville, Tennessee, by benefactors Rey and Cynthia Almodovar. al, "Nuptials nixed by COVID-19? Win a mountain wedding," 13 May 2020 The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said its Los Angeles office saw a 70% increase in animals going into foster care. David R Baker,, "Newest Shortage in New York: The City Is Running Out of Dogs to Foster," 10 May 2020 The other funds focus on fighting homelessness, meals for former foster children and their families, paying off school lunch debt, and covering travel costs for people released from prison. Chase Difeliciantonio,, "Expensify’s corporate card to funnel fees to good causes," 13 Jan. 2020 A week after child welfare officials confirmed two teenagers in its care were handcuffed and placed in leg shackles while being driven, the agency is changing its policy to prohibit the use of such restraints on foster children. Elyssa Cherney,, "Foster children in Illinois were being driven in handcuffs and leg shackles. After complaints, DCFS is banning the practice.," 13 Nov. 2019 Soon, the majority of the adults in the room felt that this relationship was a bad idea for their respective child — Deja, the bright foster child who’d already been through a lot; Malik, the straight-A young father of an infant daughter. Dan Snierson,, "This Is Us producers break down two difficult dinners about race and class," 6 Nov. 2019 The agency Aldana works with, in Bakersfield, has also banned her and other foster parents from taking children outside of the home because of fears of exposure to the virus. Sindya N. Bhanoo, Washington Post, "When parents have to be social workers and therapists, too: How coronavirus is affecting foster families," 4 May 2020 Since adapting its process after shelter-in-place orders, Franklin's organization has adopted out 135 dogs and received hundreds of foster applications. Aj Willingham, CNN, "All The Good Stuff that happened this week," 2 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The civil rights movement is now commonly depicted as a stand-alone racial project, one that bred lethal white resentment and consequently fostered an entire political realignment. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, The New Republic, "When Blackness Is a Preexisting Condition," 4 May 2020 America's dogs are having their day as the coronavirus keeps many people at home more with their pets and spurs so much adoption and fostering that some shelters' kennels have emptied. Jennifer Peltz, The Christian Science Monitor, "Puppy love: Corgis join popular American dog rankings," 1 May 2020 The requirement is meant to help soothe concerns that aircraft cabins foster the spread of Covid-19. Mary Schlangenstein / Bloomberg, Time, "3 Out of the 4 Major U.S. Airlines Will Require Passengers to Wear Masks on Flights," 1 May 2020 This reaction, at sun-hot temperatures, is what 25,000 tons of ITER equipment will foster. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "30 Years Later, This Big Boy Fusion Reactor Is Almost Ready to Turn On," 28 Apr. 2020 The Fraleys had been fostering and caring for toddler Abigail Hope for more than two years, or ever since little Hope left the hospital after her birth. al, "Alabama lawyer uses video conferencing to help families adopt during pandemic," 26 Apr. 2020 Eason is also the type of quarterback whose immense upside will foster unrealistic hope and hyperbole. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Colts already trying to temper expectations for Jacob Eason," 26 Apr. 2020 Candace Avalos: Police Bureau: Eroding trust between the public and the police is harming police officers’ abilities to effectively protect the city and foster a community where people feel safe to go about their daily lives. oregonlive, "Portland Commissioner Position 1 candidates select which city bureaus they would like to oversee," 24 Apr. 2020 What the Lost Leaf means to downtown Phoenix The Lost Leaf is known for hosting live music seven nights a week, from jazz and rock to singer-songwriters and DJs, and fostering the local scene while also booking touring acts. Ed Masley, azcentral, "'It brought tears to my eyes': How downtown Phoenix is banding together to save Lost Leaf," 23 Apr. 2020

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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Time Traveler for foster

Time Traveler

The first known use of foster was before the 12th century

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Statistics for foster

Last Updated

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

Foster.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for foster


How to pronounce Foster (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for foster

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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