fo·​ment | \ ˈfō-ˌment How to pronounce foment (audio) , fō-ˈment How to pronounce foment (audio) \
fomented; fomenting; foments

Definition of foment

transitive verb

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

Other Words from foment

fomenter noun

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

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? Not 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."

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 Trump’s false claims of voter fraud have continued to foment, met mostly with silence from Republicans in Congress unwilling to contradict his version of events. Lisa Mascaro, ajc, 6 Jan. 2022 The company’s platform helped foment the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump insurrectionists. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 17 Dec. 2021 The idea that blue paint could vanish entirely may seem absurd, but even the suggestion — made in headlines this fall — is enough to foment existential doom. Washington Post, 23 Dec. 2021 One of the biggest reasons for this is the collapse in our trust for leaders and experts from media to politics, who seem more intent to spin and foment fear than to inform and govern prudently. Wsj Books Staff, WSJ, 8 Dec. 2021 Their use of Facebook, in particular, fueled anger over President Donald Trump’s November 2020 election loss to Joe Biden and helped foment the breach of the Capitol in an attempt to disrupt the certification of Biden’s electoral college victory. Washington Post, 9 Dec. 2021 Haugen testified that Facebook has been used to spread hate globally and foment deadly ethnic violence in Myanmar and Ethiopia. Kara Alaimo, CNN, 20 Oct. 2021 But this moment also represents a political victory over a recalcitrant minority that has long tried to foment a regressive culture war. Nicole Rodgers, Fortune, 19 Nov. 2021 The terms of the dispute are not known publicly, but for any streaming service the prospect of being removed from 55 million devices in one fell swoop cannot help but foment further Streaming 2.0-related agita. Howard Homonoff, Forbes, 15 Nov. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'foment.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of foment

circa 1613, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for foment

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

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The first known use of foment was circa 1613

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Last Updated

13 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Foment.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for foment



English Language Learners Definition of foment

: to cause or try to cause the growth or development of (something bad or harmful) : incite


fo·​ment | \ ˈfō-ˌment How to pronounce foment (audio) \

Medical Definition of foment

 (Entry 1 of 2)


transitive verb
fo·​ment | \ fō-ˈment How to pronounce foment (audio) \

Medical Definition of foment (Entry 2 of 2)

: to treat with moist heat (as for easing pain)

More from Merriam-Webster on foment

Nglish: Translation of foment for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of foment for Arabic Speakers


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