Definition of foster in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Encourage or promote the development of (something, typically something regarded as good)

    ‘the teacher's task is to foster learning’
    • ‘A sense of reverence and humility foster the spirit most conducive to creation.’
    • ‘These, he said, are the fundamentals of the interactive participative learning environment that can foster an innovative culture in Ireland.’
    • ‘A writing contest is one approach, but there are many other ways that a newsroom can foster a learning culture that is dedicated to excellence.’
    • ‘We believe that the Animal Enterprise Act must be updated to ensure that individuals and companies are protected and drug development is fostered.’
    • ‘Inflationary policies conducted for long periods of time not only foster the growth of government but also depress economic activity.’
    • ‘From the perspective of immigrant writers it seems clear that Anglo-American culture fosters and encourages cheerfulness, positive thinking, and staying in control.’
    • ‘Educational efforts, on the other hand, trigger guilt, thereby fostering the retreat into further denial.’
    • ‘The sports will preferably offer participation in a team-based environment that encourages and fosters the development of esprit de corps.’
    • ‘Now, there is an opportunity to foster understanding and dialogue.’
    • ‘The temple can serve to foster spiritual growth and development.’
    • ‘Academic freedom should be more highly valued and more actively fostered.’
    • ‘Appropriate use of such assessments fosters learning and development and positively affects commitment and retention.’
    • ‘We are becoming increasingly aware of this explosion of scholarship, and we want to do everything in our power to encourage and foster this development.’
    • ‘Since laughter is often contagious, it also fosters a sense of connection to others.’
    • ‘Rewards assisted in encouraging and fostering a positive learning environment.’
    • ‘Both support learners in articulating their knowledge and thus foster learning as a constructive process.’
    • ‘The group's attempts to be more than a talk shop have often only fostered more discord.’
    • ‘Is this going to help change things and foster understanding?’
    • ‘Fourth, the environment that a company builds should foster learning and the exchange of knowledge.’
    • ‘Online writing workshops, discussion sites and newsletters also foster a sense of writing community.’
    encourage, promote, further, stimulate, advance, forward, cultivate, nurture, strengthen, enrich, help, aid, abet, assist, contribute to, support, endorse, champion, speak for, proselytize, sponsor, espouse, uphold, back, boost, give backing to, facilitate
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Develop (a feeling or idea) in oneself.
      ‘appropriate praise helps a child foster a sense of self-worth’
      • ‘Take a big does of Venus, goddess of beauty and love, and use her energy to foster a healthy self-esteem and noble sense of self-worth.’
      • ‘The advertisements kids see around the holidays can help foster unrealistic expectations and lead to disappointment.’
      • ‘Since the students and other volunteers accomplish most of the work, a sense of community pride is fostered.’
      • ‘My beef is the lack of communication that often fosters false expectations in patients, who then blame the local doctors when things turn out worse than they hoped.’
  • 2Bring up (a child that is not one's own by birth).

    • ‘Apart from their own seven children and step-children, he and his wife fostered a child from the age of four.’
    • ‘A daughter whose parents fostered more than 20 children in Bradford is seeking help to track them down as a 60th birthday present for her father.’
    • ‘Each year a group of local people who have been to Russia and now have fostered children run a dinner dance in Tubbercurry.’
    • ‘We grew up together while a close friend of my mother was fostering me.’
    • ‘One of the raids was at the home of an elderly woman in a wheelchair and another was at the house of a pensioner who fostered children.’
    • ‘My parents foster kids all the time and they wouldn't have minded at all.’
    • ‘But if you only foster a child for part of the year - which you may, since your children take you on holiday and so forth - you get the pension credit back at the full rate for the time you don't work.’
    • ‘So in my middle 30s I fostered many children and am in the process of finalizing the adoption of two of them.’
    • ‘What is most noteworthy about them is that they are indistinguishable from those who fostered children in the context of informal circulation.’
    • ‘Serena Allott talks to parents whose willingness to foster children ensures that the nest is never empty.’
    • ‘Porter reveals plan to foster children with special needs’
    • ‘My parents fostered my mother's half-sister's daughter for a year.’
    • ‘At the moment we have a particular need for people from ethnic backgrounds and those prepared to foster children over 10.’
    • ‘As someone who has successfully fostered a child who is now an adult, Pat Whelen said she would definitely recommend it.’
    • ‘I know someone who fostered a child for over ten years.’
    • ‘Finally, we built an extension for the kids and we have also fostered children over the years.’
    • ‘But the baby boy isn't Karen's son, he is one of the children she and her husband are fostering.’
    • ‘Caroline gained her understanding of what was required when looking after children when she helped with her younger siblings, and watching her parents who fostered babies and young children.’
    • ‘This may be getting more involved than they contemplated when they agreed to foster children for the local authority.’
    bring up, rear, raise, care for, take care of, look after, nurture, provide for
    View synonyms


  • 1Denoting someone that has a specified family connection through fostering rather than birth.

    ‘foster parent’
    ‘foster child’
    • ‘The basic domestic unit is the nuclear family household, sometimes also including an aged parent or a foster child.’
    • ‘I felt a bit like a foster child meeting new parents.’
    • ‘To move him again would be to break his new attachments now formed to the foster family, particularly the foster mother who has become a primary figure to him.’
    • ‘He himself grew up without his biological parents, being raised by a foster family, and is understandably sceptical about the elevation of biology over nurture.’
    • ‘In our family, we took a Cambodian refugee as a foster daughter.’
    • ‘As a youth living in San Francisco, I was a foster kid from the time I was about nine years old until I was 18.’
    • ‘Maybe it was because Angela herself had been a foster child throughout her childhood, giving birth to Candace when she was just eighteen.’
    • ‘Last year, a national conference of adoptive parents was organised to deliberate on challenges of adoptive parenthood, how to raise a foster child, and so on.’
    • ‘Neither parent is functioning at anywhere near the level that the foster mother does.’
    • ‘I had a foster brother and sister, and my family was perfect.’
    • ‘He had no parents except for the foster couple, who gave him up when his uncles would not raise their rate to keep him.’
    • ‘In the northern region of Ghana, almost every family has a foster child who is a relative.’
    • ‘Unlike me, though, he'd found a home with a guardian that sounded like everything I'd ever dreamed a foster parent could be, plus a close extended family.’
    • ‘It's actually the reason I had to come to St. Clara's rather than stay with a foster family.’
    • ‘In some cases, the IRS might, on one part of a tax return, view a child of a nonlegal parent as a foster child or dependent, but might not on another.’
    • ‘She had not been approved as a foster parent but rather was acting in a provisional capacity.’
    • ‘She got certified to be a foster parent and has been really, really helpful.’
    • ‘What kind of checks and balances are in place right now when it comes to a foster family?’
    • ‘Employees can take this leave upon the birth or adoption of a child or the placement of a foster child.’
    • ‘Obviously she was sent away from her real parents and taken in by a foster family to be kept safe from something.’
    1. 1.1 Involving or concerned with fostering a child.
      ‘foster care’
      ‘foster home’
      • ‘But before I could muster up a tear, they told me they were applying for a foster care license.’
      • ‘Call your state department of foster care and lend a hand.’
      • ‘This kind of care and nurturing is essential because these children are at greater risk of being neglected, getting lost in the foster care system and committing crimes.’
      • ‘That would be great, having a health care system patterned after the foster care system.’
      • ‘Volunteers post their offers of foster care for displaced pets.’
      • ‘Nine months since the group was formed, the women have reached 100 dogs, with nine more canines in the care of foster homes waiting for an owner.’
      • ‘Studies conducted in prisons have shown that over 50 percent of the inmates had spent some point of their life in the foster care or in the juvenile system.’
      • ‘Her favorite place was the foster care center, actually.’
      • ‘The $1.2 million grant program targets students who have left the foster care system at 18 without being adopted or returned home.’
      • ‘Several months later, I was placed in a foster care home.’
      • ‘It was amazing how the foster care system worked.’
      • ‘I've met a couple over the years at a foster care camp in Colorado.’
      • ‘And as we know, there are more than 100,000 kids who are eligible for adoption in the foster care system.’
      • ‘Nor do they want to antagonize foundation officials, who have placed a limit of 50 on the number of cats that can be in the foster care program at any one time.’
      • ‘The hardness came in handy surviving the foster care system.’
      • ‘While waiting, they volunteered to be put on a foster care emergency list.’
      • ‘The baby, which was barely a few weeks old when thrust into the care of a foster centre, has grown into a healthy and chubby five-year-old girl under the parental love of her adopted parents.’
      • ‘But there was always something lacking in the impermanence of foster care, where the typical length of stay can be anywhere from a few months to a few years.’
      • ‘Many of these campers have been in and out of the foster care system and are not quick to trust or accept love from a person until that person proves to be dependable.’
      • ‘The reunified and non-reunified children did not differ in terms of gender distribution and reasons for entry into the foster care system.’


Old English fōstrian ‘feed, nourish’, from fōster ‘food, nourishment’, of Germanic origin; related to food. The sense ‘bring up another's (originally also one's own) child’ dates from Middle English. See also foster-.