Etymology
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foster (v.)

Old English *fostrian "to supply with food, nourish, support," from fostor "food, nourishment, bringing up," from Proto-Germanic *fostra-, from extended form of PIE root *pa- "to feed."

Meaning "to bring up a child with parental care" is from c. 1200; that of "to encourage or help grow" is early 13c. of things; 1560s of feelings, ideas, etc. Old English also had the word as an adjective meaning "in the same family but not related," in fostorfæder, fostorcild, fostormodoretc. Related: Fostered; fostering.

updated on April 18, 2017

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Definitions of foster from WordNet
1
foster (v.)
promote the growth of;
Synonyms: further
foster (v.)
bring up under fosterage; of children;
foster (v.)
help develop, help grow;
Synonyms: nurture
2
foster (adj.)
providing or receiving nurture or parental care though not related by blood or legal ties;
foster home
foster child
foster parent
Synonyms: surrogate
3
Foster (n.)
United States songwriter whose songs embody the sentiment of the South before the American Civil War (1826-1864);
Synonyms: Stephen Foster / Stephen Collins Foster
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.