from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To bring up; nurture: bear and foster offspring. See Synonyms at nurture.
  • transitive v. To promote the growth and development of; cultivate: detect and foster artistic talent. See Synonyms at advance.
  • transitive v. To nurse; cherish: foster a secret hope.
  • adj. Providing parental care and nurture to children not related through legal or blood ties: foster parents; foster grandparents; a foster home.
  • adj. Receiving parental care and nurture from those not related to one through legal or blood ties: foster children.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Providing parental care to unrelated children.
  • adj. receiving such care
  • adj. Related by such care
  • n. A forester
  • n. The care given to another; guardianship
  • v. To nurture or bring up offspring; or to provide similar parental care to an unrelated child.
  • v. To cultivate and grow something.
  • v. To nurse or cherish something.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Relating to nourishment; affording, receiving, or sharing nourishment or nurture; -- applied to father, mother, child, brother, etc., to indicate that the person so called stands in the relation of parent, child, brother, etc., as regards sustenance and nurture, but not by tie of blood.
  • n. A forester.
  • intransitive v. To be nourished or trained up together.
  • transitive v. To feed; to nourish; to support; to bring up.
  • transitive v. To cherish; to promote the growth of; to encourage; to sustain and promote.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To feed; nourish; support; bring up.
  • To sustain by aid, care, or encouragement; give support to; cherish; promote: as, to foster the growth of tender plants; to foster an enterprise; to foster pride or genius.
  • Synonyms Harbor, etc. (see cherish); to indulge, favor, forward, advance, further, help on.
  • To be nourished or trained up together.
  • n. A contracted form of forster, forester.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. promote the growth of
  • v. bring up under fosterage; of children
  • n. United States songwriter whose songs embody the sentiment of the South before the American Civil War (1826-1864)
  • v. help develop, help grow
  • adj. providing or receiving nurture or parental care though not related by blood or legal ties


Middle English fostren, from Old English *fōstrian, to nourish, from fōstor, food, nourishing; see pā- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old English fostor ("food, sustenance"), from Proto-Germanic *fustran. (Wiktionary)



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