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[lev-uh-ning] /ˈlɛv ə nɪŋ/
Also called leavening agent. a substance used to produce fermentation in dough or batter; leaven.
the act or process of causing to ferment by leaven.
leaven (def 3).
Origin of leavening
1600-10; leaven + -ing1


[lev-uh n] /ˈlɛv ən/
a substance, as yeast or baking powder, that causes fermentation and expansion of dough or batter.
fermented dough reserved for producing fermentation in a new batch of dough.
an element that produces an altering or transforming influence.
verb (used with object)
to add leaven to (dough or batter) and cause to rise.
to permeate with an altering or transforming element.
1300-50; Middle English levain < Anglo-French, Old French levain < Vulgar Latin *levāmen, equivalent to Latin levā(re) to raise + -men deverbal noun suffix (probably not continuous with Latin levāmen means of alleviating, solace) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for leavening
  • Her thoughts on the terror leavening her blissful insight came from that emotional peak of the interview and the cool-down phase.
  • Leavened products tend to rise more rapidly under decreased pressure, so shorter rising times or less leavening agent is advised.
  • Some leavening perspective does seem to be in order.
  • Hence the use of baking soda, originally potash, as a leavening agent.
  • Mix it with some butter, buttermilk, and leavening and you've got biscuits so tender they melt in your mouth.
  • Precise, sure, but her loveless life still needs a bit of leavening.
  • When talking about leavening agents, it's all chemistry.
  • Eggs are the only leavening ingredient in cream puffs, so the more egg, the more puff.
  • The leavening and proportion of ingredients also play a hand in how the top of the muffin looks.
  • Starters, such as sourdough, are another type of leavening.
British Dictionary definitions for leavening


any substance that produces fermentation in dough or batter, such as yeast, and causes it to rise
a piece of such a substance kept to ferment a new batch of dough
an agency or influence that produces a gradual change
verb (transitive)
to cause fermentation in (dough or batter)
to pervade, causing a gradual change, esp with some moderating or enlivening influence
Word Origin
C14: via Old French ultimately from Latin levāmen relief, (hence, raising agent, leaven), from levāre to raise
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 leavening



mid-14c., from Old French levain "leaven, sourdough" (12c.), from Latin levamen "alleviation, mitigation," but used in Vulgar Latin in its literal sense of "a means of lifting, something that raises," from levare "to raise" (see lever). Figurative use from late 14c.


c.1400, from leaven (n.). Related: Leavened; leavening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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leavening in the Bible

(1.) Heb. seor (Ex. 12:15, 19; 13:7; Lev. 2:11), the remnant of dough from the preceding baking which had fermented and become acid. (2.) Heb. hamets, properly "ferment." In Num. 6:3, "vinegar of wine" is more correctly "fermented wine." In Ex. 13:7, the proper rendering would be, "Unfermented things [Heb. matstsoth] shall be consumed during the seven days; and there shall not be seen with thee fermented things [hamets], and there shall not be seen with thee leavened mass [seor] in all thy borders." The chemical definition of ferment or yeast is "a substance in a state of putrefaction, the atoms of which are in a continual motion." The use of leaven was strictly forbidden in all offerings made to the Lord by fire (Lev. 2:11; 7:12; 8:2; Num. 6:15). Its secretly penetrating and diffusive power is referred to in 1 Cor. 5:6. In this respect it is used to illustrate the growth of the kingdom of heaven both in the individual heart and in the world (Matt. 13:33). It is a figure also of corruptness and of perverseness of heart and life (Matt. 16:6, 11; Mark 8:15; 1 Cor. 5:7, 8).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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