fo·ment | \ˈfō-ˌment, fō-ˈment \
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

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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." 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. But the idea of applying heat can also be a metaphor for stimulating or rousing to action. Within 50 years of its English debut, "foment" was also being used in political contexts to mean "to stir up," "to call to action," or, in a sense at least figuratively opposite to its original one, "to irritate."

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

Beyond age restrictions for firearms, Trump directed the school safety commission to study whether violent entertainment or the news media played a role in fomenting school shootings. Moriah Balingit, Washington Post, "Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stirs confusion, faces criticism over gun remarks," 6 June 2018 Reinstalling Mr Abadi is unlikely to satisfy voters and risks fomenting more unrest. The Economist, "Iraqi voters are fed up with the old guard," 10 May 2018 Haley and Danny Danon, Israel's U.N. ambassador, accused Iran of helping foment the violent and deadly clashes. Anchorage Daily News, "Israel, US criticized for Palestinian deaths in Gaza clashes as death toll rises," 16 May 2018 It is used to foment division and turn us against one another. Jessi Hempel, WIRED, "Competition Is at the Heart of Facebook’s Privacy Problem," 24 Apr. 2018 Many blame his anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic writings for fomenting the 1855 Bloody Monday riots in Louisville in which mobs attacked Catholic neighborhoods. Thomas Novelly, The Courier-Journal, "Swifties, statues and WWE: What you missed in Louisville this weekend," 2 July 2018 Trump’s remarks came as his administration pressed European nations at a NATO summit to cut off all funding that Iran may use to foment instability in the Middle East and beyond. Matthew Lee,, "Trump says there ‘might be an escalation’ between US, Iran," 12 July 2018 The effort has flooded their respective home zones with anti-Kavanaugh advertisements intended to foment public pressure on the two lawmakers to vote against the nominee. Nash Jenkins, Time, "Here's What the Key Senators Think About Brett Kavanaugh Right Now," 10 July 2018 Matt’s bright idea is to foment a war between two rival Mexican drug cartels, at least one of which might have helped the terrorists. Taylor Sheridan, New York Times, "Review: ‘Sicario: Day of the Soldado’ Blends War Movie and Western," 28 June 2018

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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Statistics for foment

Last Updated

4 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for foment

The first known use of foment was circa 1613

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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)


fo·ment | \ˈfō-ˌment \

Medical Definition of foment 

(Entry 1 of 2)

fo·ment | \fō-ˈment \

Medical Definition of foment (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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