[faw-ster, fos-ter]
  1. Stephen (Collins),1826–64, U.S. songwriter.
  2. William Z(eb·u·lon) [zeb-yuh-luh n] /ˈzɛb yə lən/, 1881–1961, U.S. labor organizer: leader in the Communist Party.
  3. a male given name. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for stephen foster


verb (tr)
  1. to promote the growth or development of
  2. to bring up (a child, etc); rear
  3. to cherish (a plan, hope, etc) in one's mind
  4. mainly British
    1. to place (a child) in the care of foster parents
    2. to bring up under fosterage
  1. (in combination) indicating relationship through fostering and not through birthfoster mother; foster child
  2. (in combination) of or involved in the rearing of a child by persons other than his natural or adopted parentsfoster home
Derived Formsfosterer, nounfostering, noun

Word Origin for foster

Old English fōstrian to feed, from fōstor food


  1. Jodie . born 1962, US film actress and director: her films include Taxi Driver (1976), The Accused (1988), The Silence of the Lambs (1990), Little Man Tate (1991; also directed), Nell (1995), and Panic Room (2002)
  2. Norman, Baron. born 1935, British architect. His works include 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)
  3. Stephen Collins . 1826–64, US composer of songs such as The Old Folks at Home and Oh Susanna
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

Word Origin and History for stephen foster



Old English *fostrian "to supply with food, nourish, support," from fostor "food, nourishment, bringing up," from Proto-Germanic *fostrom, from root *foth-/*fod- (see food).

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 adjective meaning "in the same family but not related," in fostorfæder, etc. Related: Fostered; fostering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper