Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for nourish in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)


From Middle English norischen, from Old French nouriss-, stem of one of the conjugated forms of norrir, from Latin nutrire (to suckle, feed, foster, nourish, cherish, preserve, support).



nourish (plural nourishes)

  1. (obsolete) A nurse.


nourish (third-person singular simple present nourishes, present participle nourishing, simple past and past participle nourished)

  1. To feed and cause to grow; to supply with matter which increases bulk and/or supplies waste, and promotes health.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], OCLC 964384981, Isaiah 44:14:
      He planteth an ash, and the rain doth nourish it.
    • 1638, Francis Bacon, The Historie of Life and Death
      other carnivorous Animals are difficultly nourished by Plants alone
    • 1872, Thomas Bull, The Maternal Management of Children, in Health and Diseases
      Children nourished exclusively upon this simple food will be found to enjoy more perfect health
    • 1996, Alexander Frank Skutch, Orioles, Blackbirds, and Their Kin: A Natural History
      we have ample evidence that male Bobolinks do not shirk the labor of nourishing their families. In a four-year study, Wittenberger (1980, 1982) found that males delivered about 60 Bobolink percent of the food.
  2. To support; to maintain; to be responsible for.
  3. To encourage; to foster; to stimulate
    • 2003, Marilyn Byfield Paul, It's Hard to Make a Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys
      When we slow down to pay attention to our own experience, we open ourselves to the love and richness that is here all the time. These are moments that can nourish your connection to your heart.
    • 2010, Colin L. Powell, My American Journey
      I thanked the Fort Leavenworth military historian, Colonel von Schlemmer, for nourishing my first hope to memorialize the Buffalo Soldiers
    to nourish rebellion
    to nourish virtues
  4. To cherish; to comfort.
  5. (of a person) To educate or bring up; to nurture; to promote emotional, spiritual or other non-physical growth.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Chaucer to this entry?)
  6. To promote growth; to furnish nutriment.
    This type of nourishes very well.
  7. (intransitive, obsolete) To gain nourishment.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Francis Bacon to this entry?)

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