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late 14c., in alchemy, with a broad sense; modern scientific sense is from c.1600; from Late Latin fermentationem (nominative fermentatio), noun of action from fermentare (see ferment (v.)). Figurative use attested from 1650s.
fermentation fer·men·ta·tion (fûr'mən-tā'shən, -měn-)
Any of a group of chemical reactions that split complex organic compounds into relatively simple substances, especially the anaerobic conversion of sugar to carbon dioxide and alcohol by yeast.
The process by which complex organic compounds, such as glucose, are broken down by the action of enzymes into simpler compounds without the use of oxygen. Fermentation results in the production of energy in the form of two ATP molecules, and produces less energy than the aerobic process of cellular respiration. The other end products of fermentation differ depending on the organism. In many bacteria, fungi, protists, and animals cells (notably muscle cells in the body), fermentation produces lactic acid and lactate, carbon dioxide, and water. In yeast and most plant cells, fermentation produces ethyl alcohol, carbon dioxide, and water.