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An Eastern Grey Kangaroo nurtures her joey.

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 The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.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 nurture in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)


From Middle English norture, noriture, from Old French norriture, norreture, from Late Latin nutritura (nourishment), from Latin nutrire (to nourish).



nurture (countable and uncountable, plural nurtures)

  1. The act of nourishing or nursing; tender care
    Synonyms: upbringing, raising, education, training
  2. That which nourishes; food; diet.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, A Veue of the Present State of Ireland
      Other great houses there be of the English in Ireland, which, through licentious conversing with the Irish, or marrying, or fostering with them or lack of meet nurture, or other such unhappy occasions, have degenerated from their ancient dignities and are now grown as Irish as O'Hanlon's breech, as the proverb there is.
  3. The environmental influences that contribute to the development of an individual; see also nature.
    • (Can we date this quote by Milton?)
      A man neither by nature nor by nurture wise.



nurture (third-person singular simple present nurtures, present participle nurturing, simple past and past participle nurtured)

  1. To nourish or nurse.
  2. (figuratively, by extension) To encourage, especially the growth or development of something.
    • 2009, UNESCO, The United Nations World Water Development Report – N° 3 - 2009 – Freshwater and International Law (the Interplay between Universal, Regional and Basin Perspectives), page 10, →ISBN
      The relationships between universal norms and specific norms nurture the development of international law.


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Middle EnglishEdit



  1. Alternative form of norture