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

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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 The Chinese envoy, following the conclusion of his trip, alleged that American officials are attempting to foment uprisings against governments in the region. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, "China appeals to Russia and other regional allies to counter US influence," 17 Sep. 2020 In Wednesday's speech, Lukashenko accused Ukraine of working in cahoots with the U.S. and its allies to foment the protests demanding his resignation. Yuras Karmanau, Star Tribune, "Ukraine, Belarus trade accusations over Jewish pilgrims," 16 Sep. 2020 The earlier report also concluded that Iran is working to foment division and undermine Trump in advance of the election. Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, "Intelligence officials find 'probing' of election systems, not mail-in ballot fraud," 26 Aug. 2020 In the meantime, the group certainly has its work cut out for it as President Donald Trump continues to foment his base with the same inflammatory language the advocacy groups are fighting against. Nardine Saad,, "Why celebrities are declaring ‘we have her back’ about Kamala Harris," 12 Aug. 2020 The analysis, published Friday by the chief of the National Counter-Intelligence and Security Center, also concluded that Iran is working to foment division and undermine Trump in advance of the 2020 election. Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, "US intel: Russia working to defeat Biden; China prefers Trump defeat," 8 Aug. 2020 The Trump campaign sought to foment the same tension on Tuesday by arguing that the Democratic establishment is again asserting itself. Bill Barrow, The Denver Post, "Hillary Clinton to endorse Joe Biden later Tuesday, AP source says," 28 Apr. 2020 The first act of Disney+’s film, which focuses on the Revolutionary War, is as vigorous as ever—full of patriotic fervor as the characters foment rebellion and fight their war of independence. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The Surreal Experience of Watching Hamilton in 2020," 3 July 2020 For groups like QAnon, PizzaGate has become a convenient way to foment discontent. Sheera Frenkel,, "‘PizzaGate’ conspiracy theory thrives anew in the TikTok era," 27 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for foment

Time Traveler

The first known use of foment was circa 1613

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Last Updated

21 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Foment.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for foment


How to pronounce foment (audio) How to pronounce foment (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of foment

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


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

Medical Definition of foment

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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)

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