fomented; fomenting; foments

transitive verb

: to promote the growth or development of : rouse, incite
foment a rebellion
was accused of fomenting a riot
fomenter noun

Did you know?

If you had sore muscles in the 1600s, your doctor might have advised you to foment the injury, perhaps with heated lotions or warm wax. Does this sound like an odd prescription? It's less so if you know that foment traces to the Latin verb fovēre, which means "to heat or warm" or "to soothe." The earliest documented English uses of foment appear in medical texts offering advice on how to soothe various aches and pains by the application of moist heat. In time, the idea of applying heat became a metaphor for stimulating or rousing to action. Foment then started being used in political contexts to mean "to stir up" or "to call to action."

Choose the Right Synonym for foment

incite, instigate, abet, foment mean to spur to action.

incite stresses a stirring up and urging on, and may or may not imply initiating.

inciting a riot

instigate definitely implies responsibility for initiating another's action and often connotes underhandedness or evil intention.

instigated a conspiracy

abet implies both assisting and encouraging.

aiding and abetting the enemy

foment implies persistence in goading.

fomenting rebellion

Examples of foment in a Sentence

He was accused of fomenting violence. John Adams's wife, Abigail, told him that if women were not remembered by the new American government, they would “foment a Rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice or Representation”.
Recent Examples on the Web The list includes dozens of people Cuba says have been implicated in hotel bombings, plots to foment unrest, and assassination attempts against Fidel Castro, many of which date back decades. Reuters, NBC News, 9 July 2024 The Great Depression fomented widespread resentment of immigrants across France, leading to discrimination, detentions and expulsions. Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles Times, 6 July 2024 Moscow has tried for decades to keep a lid on the raging Islamist extremism its years of brutal suppression and poverty have fomented across the North Caucasus. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, 24 June 2024 Iran and the world is at least spared that, but Khamenei and the other mullahs remain, oppressing women, crushing dissent and speech, fomenting terror across the Mideast, and most dangerous of all, still pursuing nukes. New York Daily News Editorial Board, New York Daily News, 21 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for foment 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'foment.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, to apply a warm substance to, from Late Latin fomentare, from Latin fomentum compress, from fovēre to heat, soothe; akin to Lithuanian degti to burn, Sanskrit dahati it burns

First Known Use

circa 1613, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of foment was circa 1613


Dictionary Entries Near foment

Cite this Entry

“Foment.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


: to stir up : rouse, instigate
foment rebellion
fomenter noun

Medical Definition


1 of 2 noun
fo·​ment ˈfō-ˌment How to pronounce foment (audio)


2 of 2 transitive verb
fo·​ment fō-ˈment How to pronounce foment (audio)
: to treat with moist heat (as for easing pain)

More from Merriam-Webster on foment

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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