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[foh-ment] /foʊˈmɛnt/
verb (used with object)
to instigate or foster (discord, rebellion, etc.); promote the growth or development of:
to foment trouble; to foment discontent.
to apply warm water or medicated liquid, ointments, etc., to (the surface of the body).
Origin of foment
1350-1400; Middle English fomenten < Late Latin fōmentāre, verbal derivative of Latin fōmentum soothing application, poultice, contraction of *fōvimentum, equivalent to fōv(ēre) to keep warm + -i- -i- + -mentum -ment
Related forms
fomenter, noun
unfomented, adjective
Can be confused
ferment, foment.
1. incite, provoke, arouse, inflame, excite, stir up; encourage, stimulate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for foment
  • There are other demagogues there now who have and continue to foment war.
  • Moreover, critics say that the army has historically done little but brutalise its own citizenry and foment instability.
  • To foment revolution, with a drip-drip of snarky stories about corruption.
  • They are trying to foment a revolution, and they don't feel guilty about that, not one bit.
  • On his travels, he began to foment revolution among the rural poor.
  • But this less-than-militant atmosphere has not prevented some groups from seeking to foment trouble.
  • The hundreds of thousands individuals who tweeted and commented weren't seeking to overthrow the government or foment revolution.
  • They found that they could propagate their leavening by saving a bit of unused dough to sow the seeds of foment in the next batch.
  • Often, she seems to want to foment conflict, as if she were arranging toy soldiers on a wee battlefield.
  • Many books have recently appeared on terrorism that serve to foment anxiety.
British Dictionary definitions for foment


verb (transitive)
to encourage or instigate (trouble, discord, etc); stir up
(med) to apply heat and moisture to (a part of the body) to relieve pain and inflammation
Derived Forms
fomentation (ˌfəʊmɛnˈteɪʃən) noun
fomenter, noun
Usage note
Both foment and ferment can be used to talk about stirring up trouble: he was accused of fomenting/fermenting unrest. Only ferment can be used intransitively or as a noun: his anger continued to ferment (not foment); rural areas were unaffected by the ferment in the cities
Word Origin
C15: from Late Latin fōmentāre, from Latin fōmentum a poultice, ultimately from fovēre to foster
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
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Word Origin and History for foment

early 15c., "apply hot liquids," from Old French fomenter (13c.) "apply hot compress (to a wound)," from Late Latin fomentare, from Latin fomentum "warm application, poultice," contraction of *fovimentum, from fovere "to warm; cherish, encourage" (see fever). Extended sense of "stimulate, instigate" (1620s) was in the French. Related: Fomented; fomenting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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