Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To bring up; nurture: synonym: nurture.
  • transitive verb To promote the growth and development of; cultivate: synonym: advance.
  • transitive verb To nurse; cherish.
  • adjective Providing parental care and nurture to children not related through legal or blood ties.
  • adjective Receiving parental care and nurture from those not related to one through legal or blood ties.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • noun A contracted form of forster, forester.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun obsolete A forester.
  • intransitive verb obsolete To be nourished or trained up together.
  • transitive verb To feed; to nourish; to support; to bring up.
  • transitive verb To cherish; to promote the growth of; to encourage; to sustain and promote.
  • adjective 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.
  • adjective an infant or child nursed or raised by a woman not its mother, or bred by a man not its father.
  • adjective one who is, or has been, nursed at the same breast, or brought up by the same nurse as another, but is not of the same parentage.
  • adjective one who takes the place of a mother; a nurse.
  • adjective earth by which a plant is nourished, though not its native soil.
  • adjective a man who takes the place of a father in caring for a child.
  • adjective [Obs.] One's adopted country.
  • adjective [Obs.] remuneration fixed for the rearing of a foster child; also, the jointure of a wife.
  • adjective a woman who takes a mother's place in the nurture and care of a child; a nurse.
  • adjective [R.] a nurse; a nourisher.
  • adjective a foster mother or foster father.
  • adjective a male foster child.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Providing parental care to unrelated children.
  • adjective receiving such care
  • adjective Related by such care
  • noun countable, obsolete A forester
  • noun uncountable The care given to another; guardianship
  • verb transitive To nurture or bring up offspring; or to provide similar parental care to an unrelated child.
  • verb transitive To cultivate and grow something.
  • verb transitive To nurse or cherish something.

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Middle English fostren, from Old English *fōstrian, to nourish, from fōstor, food, nourishing; see pā- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English fostor ("food, sustenance"), from Proto-Germanic *fustran.

Examples

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