verb fo·ment \ ˈfō-ˌment , fō-ˈment \
|Updated on: 9 Aug 2018

Definition of foment

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



foment was our Word of the Day on 12/16/2011. Hear the podcast!

Examples of foment in a Sentence

  1. He was accused of fomenting violence.

  2. 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 of foment from the Web

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.

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."

Origin and Etymology of 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

Synonym Discussion of 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

FOMENT Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of foment for English Language Learners

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

Medical Dictionary



noun fo·ment \ ˈfō-ˌment \

medical Definition of foment



transitive verb fo·ment \ fō-ˈment \

medical Definition of foment

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

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fullness to the point of excess

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