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

China’s ruling Communist Party, which has blamed foreign powers for fomenting unrest, said in a commentary on social media Friday that Hong Kong protesters should not turn to the west to resolve their problems. Time, "Conflict Breaks Out in Hong Kong Mall Amid Counter Protests," 14 Sep. 2019 Catchphrases, hashtags, and theme songs are not only being used as a uniting force to foment protest among the masses, but have also helped the protests themselves remain relevant to media outlets and audiences around the world. Clarissa Pharr, Quartz, "Hong Kong protestors are using pop culture memes to stay visible to the world," 1 Sep. 2019 As the protests have intensified, however, officials in China have repeatedly blamed other countries, including Britain, for fomenting unrest. Steven Lee Myers, New York Times, "Worker at Britain’s Hong Kong Consulate Is Feared Detained in China," 20 Aug. 2019 Beijing has struck an increasingly strident tone over the protests, accusing foreign countries including the United States of fomenting unrest. NBC News, "China condemns U.S. lawmakers' support for Hong Kong protests as thousands rally again," 18 Aug. 2019 In the end, Tehran blamed the U.S. for fomenting the revolt, while Republicans accused Obama of abandoning the protesters and American values. Los Angeles Times, "Trump praises Chinese leader, not Hong Kong protesters seeking democratic reforms," 15 Aug. 2019 The prime minister also joined the ranks of his regional peers, including Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in accusing foreign actors such as billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros of fomenting unrest in a bid to oust them., "Slovak Leader’s Protege Quits With Cabinet’s Fate in the Balance," 31 Mar. 2018 Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and more, and Republican Bill Weld, former governor of Massachusetts, all took the opportunity to call out the president for fomenting hate. Melanie Eversley, Fortune, "Bipartisan Parade of Candidates Touts Reforms, Bashes Trump, at NAACP Convention," 24 July 2019 The site of John Brown’s incendiary attempt to foment a slave uprising. Drew Gilpin Faust, The Atlantic, "Race, History, and Memories of a Virginia Girlhood," 18 July 2019

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

20 Sep 2019

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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

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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More from Merriam-Webster on foment

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with foment

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for foment

Spanish Central: Translation of foment

Nglish: Translation of foment for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of foment for Arabic Speakers

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