The Meaning of Foster: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of foster? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word foster, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

What does the word foster mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word foster is a verb that means to nurture or nourish to help something develop. This is commonly used in the context of foster children, which is when poster parents give parental care to foster kids who do not have legal ties to their birth parents. The care of foster parents for the rearing of a child is done so that they do not have to be in an orphanage and does not rely on blood ties. Similar parental care is given to offspring and an unrelated child.. Providing parental care is also considered fosterage.  Foster is two syllables – fos-ter. The pronunciation of foster is ˈfɒstə.

Per Dictionary, Foster is also the last name of Jodie Foster, a US film actress known for The Silence of the Lambs, Nell, Taxi Driver, Little Man Tate, The Accused, and Panic Room, Baron Normen Foster, a British architect who created the Willis Faber building (1978) in Ipswich, Stansted Airport, Essex (1991), Chek Lap Kok Airport, Hong Kong (1998), the renovation of the Reichstag, Berlin (1999), and City Hall, London (2002), and Stephen Collins Foster, a US composer who composed  The Old Folks at Home and Oh Susanna. His songs embody the sentiment of the South before the American Civil War.

Many different languages also contain words that mean foster. You may notice that many of these words look similar to the word foster. These are called cognates, which are words that look, sound, and mean similar things across different languages. These are often formed when two words or languages share a common origin or ancestral language, such as Latin or Greek. This list of translations for the word foster is provided by Word Sense

  •  Turkish: yetiştirmek‎
  •  French: élever‎, adopter‎
  •  German: in Pflege geben‎
  •  Irish: altramaigh‎, máithrigh‎, oil‎
  •  Swedish: uppfostra‎
  •  Bulgarian: отглеждам‎, грижа се за‎
  •  Maori: taurima‎, whāngai‎
  •  Russian: воспи́тывать‎ (impf)
  •  Czech: pečovat‎
  •  Finnish: kasvattaa‎
  •  Spanish: criar‎
  •  Catalan: criar‎
  •  Greek: ανατρέφω‎
  •  Portuguese: criar‎
  •  Scottish Gaelic: altraim‎
  •  Danish: opfostre‎
  •  Kurdish: xwedî kirin‎, mezin kirin‎

What is the origin of the word foster?

According to Etymonline, the word foster has been used since Middle English and Old English fostrian and foster, from the Proto-Germanic fostra which is of Proto-Indo European roots.

What are synonyms and antonyms of the word foster?

There are many different words that one can use in place of the word foster. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are useful to know if you are trying to grow your vocabulary as well as if you are trying to avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word foster is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  entertain
  •  inspire
  •  advance
  •  surrogate
  •  generate
  •  nourish
  •  fuel
  •  champion
  •  succor
  •  spur
  •  protect
  •  further
  •  provoke
  •  occasion
  •  make
  •  hold
  •  build
  •  kindle
  •  urge
  •  spawn
  •  cherish
  •  push
  •  uphold
  •  nurture
  •  bring up
  •  serve
  •  guard
  •  harbor
  •  motivate
  •  encourage
  •  raise
  •  develop
  •  minister to
  •  enhance
  •  promoted
  •  trigger
  •  assist
  •  prompt
  •  invigorate
  •  increase
  •  save
  •  stimulate
  •  breed
  •  uplift
  •  nurse
  •  nurturing
  •  boost
  •  promoting
  •  keep
  •  take care of
  •  drive
  •  maintain
  •  strengthen
  •  create
  •  look after
  •  foment
  •  favour
  •  advocate
  •  support
  •  provide for
  •  cling to
  •  favor
  •  cause
  •  forward
  •  facilitate
  •  engender
  •  aid
  •  give a boost
  •  spark off
  •  back
  •  take forward
  •  enrich
  •  tend
  •  sustain
  •  reinforce
  •  cheer on
  •  stir up
  •  bear
  •  induce
  •  encouraging
  •  benefit
  •  fostering
  •  feed
  •  bolster
  •  patronize
  •  encouraged
  •  comfort
  •  promote
  •  produce
  •  abet
  •  care
  •  help
  •  instigate
  •  invite
  •  cultivate
  •  rear
  •  beget
  •  arouse
  •  improve
  •  have

There are also many different words that mean the opposite of the word foster. These opposite words are called antonyms. Antonyms are also useful to know if you are trying to improve your vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word foster is also provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  hinder
  •  halt
  •  ignore
  •  penalize
  •  retard
  •  dampen
  •  slow
  •  discipline
  •  disregard
  •  neglect
  •  lessen
  •  impose sanctions
  •  impede
  •  abandon
  •  abate
  •  prosecute
  •  abash
  •  subdue
  •  chastize
  •  restrain
  •  afflict
  •  destroy
  •  condemn
  •  frustrate
  •  prevent
  •  penalise
  •  curb
  •  hurt
  •  chastise
  •  thwart
  •  blackball
  •  dissuade
  •  trounce
  •  reduce
  •  obviate
  •  diminish
  •  suppress
  •  abuse
  •  injure
  •  repress
  •  obstruct
  •  block
  •  agitate
  •  punish
  •  discourage
  •  stop
  •  depress
  •  decrease
  •  check
  •  constrain

How can the word foster be used in a sentence?

The word foster can be used in many different ways in the English language. Using words in a sentence is a great way to learn their definition, as are making flashcards or quizzes for yourself. Below are many examples of foster to get you started with incorporating this word into your vocabulary. 

The STEM school wanted to foster the category of hard sciences, but students found they were underdeveloped creatively. They ended up transitioning to a STEAM academy, incorporating art into the curriculum.

The child lived in a foster home for many years until her foster parents were allowed to adopt her permanently. She was so excited the day they announced they were her forever family.

The employees tried to foster camaraderie during their shift, but their whip=cracking boss made the workplace drab and dreary. He would not let them talk and they were always required to be doing something productive with no breaks. The company had a high turnover rate.

We try to foster a sense of openness, honesty, and anonymity in the group therapy sessions. We never want anyone to feel judged or mistreated for their problems or mental health.

Overall, the word foster means providing parental care, to nourish or to encourage. 


  1. foster: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. Foster definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  3. Foster synonyms – 1 538 Words and Phrases for Foster | Power Thesaurus 
  4. Foster antonyms – 699 Opposites of Foster | Power Thesaurus
  5. Foster Definition & Meaning | Dictionary 
  6. foster | Origin and meaning of foster | Online Etymology Dictionary