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 Typically, Moscow exploits mass protests in the U.S. to amplify discord and divisions in America through social media in the attempt to help foment social unrest. Fox News, 25 June 2022 Not to mention the increasingly loud conservative voices that try to foment irrational outrage over any acknowledgement of the actual reality of LGBTQ people existing. Tracy Brownstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 20 June 2022 The shooter in that attack aimed to foment discord between Muslims and non-Muslims, with the goal of driving followers of Islam out of the country. Emma Coleman Jordan, CNN, 29 May 2022 Her travels this week underscore New Zealand's desire to foment stronger ties with the U.S. Emma Hinchliffe And Paige Mcglauflin, Fortune, 25 May 2022 Think about how many White supremacist organizations have taken up residency in East County over the years or about the ways extremists sought to use Defend East County to foment hate. San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 Apr. 2022 Rising prices could again foment political instability in the Middle East. Frida Ghitis, CNN, 3 June 2022 Rulers understood coffee’s ability to create community and, potentially, to foment dissent. Washington Post, 5 Apr. 2021 The suggestion that the pandemic helped foment the violence seemed cruel, when his family had suffered so deeply these past two years. New York Times, 28 May 2022 See More

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.

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

12 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Foment.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for foment


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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