[ nur-ish, nuhr- ]
/ ˈnɜr ɪʃ, ˈnʌr- /
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See synonyms for: nourish / nourished / nourishes / nourishing on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth.
to cherish, foster, keep alive, etc.: He had long nourished the dream of living abroad.
to strengthen, build up, or promote: to nourish discontent among the workers; to nourish the arts in one's community.
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Origin of nourish

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English norisshe, from Old French noriss-, long stem of norir, from Latin nūtrīre “to feed”; see nurse, -ish2

synonym study for nourish

1. See nurse.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does nourish mean?

Nourish means to promote healthy growth—to do or provide what’s needed for someone or something to be healthy and to grow and develop.

The word is most commonly used in relation to food. Healthy food nourishes us. Parents try to nourish their children by feeding them healthy foods. Sometimes, food is said to nourish more than the body, as in A warm, home-cooked meal nourishes the body and the spirit. 

However, nourish can be used in many other contexts, including those that don’t involve food, as in Education nourishes our minds. 

In the context of the growth and development of things, such as communities and relationships, nourish means to build up or promote, as in This grant is intended to nourish the local arts and culture scene. A more common synonym for this sense of the word is nurture.

In all of these senses, nourish is a somewhat formal and perhaps poetic word—it usually means something loftier than feed.

Less commonly, nourish can mean to cherish, foster, or keep alive, especially something abstract, like hopes or dreams. This isn’t always something positive—you can nourish a grudge, for example.

The word nourished is often used as an adjective, including in terms like well nourished, poorly nourished, undernourished, and malnourished. Things that nourish can be described with the adjective nourishing. The noun nourishment can refer to the act of nourishing or to something that nourishes.

Example: As a mother, it’s my job to nourish my kids physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Where does nourish come from?

The first records of the word nourish come from the 1200s. It comes from the Latin verb nūtrīre, meaning “to feed” or “to care for.” The words nurture, nutrition, nutritious, and nurse are based on the same root.

Nourish is closely associated with food, and even its senses that don’t literally involve food are usually likened to providing nourishing food to help someone or something grow healthy and strong. This is almost always positive. You can nourish your loved ones with love and affection, and you can nourish your mind with knowledge.

To undernourish is to fail to provide enough of what’s needed for someone or something to be healthy and to grow and develop. The word is especially used in the context of nutrition, but it can be used in the same figurative ways as nourish.

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What are some other forms related to nourish?

What are some synonyms for nourish?

What are some words that share a root or word element with nourish

What are some words that often get used in discussing nourish?

How is nourish used in real life?

Nourish and its related words are closely associated with food, but they can be used in a variety of contexts.



Try using nourish!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of nourish?

A. sustain
B. nurture
C. weaken
D. cultivate

How to use nourish in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for nourish

/ (ˈnʌrɪʃ) /

verb (tr)
to provide with the materials necessary for life and growth
to support or encourage (an idea, feeling, etc); fosterto nourish resentment

Derived forms of nourish

nourisher, nounnourishing, adjectivenourishingly, adverb

Word Origin for nourish

C14: from Old French norir, from Latin nūtrīre to feed, care for
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012