1

leaven

noun leav·en \ ˈle-vən \
Updated on: 16 Nov 2017

Definition of leaven

1 a : a substance (such as yeast) used to produce fermentation in dough or a liquid; especially : sourdough
b : a material (such as baking powder) used to produce a gas that lightens dough or batter
2 : something that modifies or lightens

Examples of leaven in a Sentence

  1. a serious book that includes a few humorous stories as leaven

Origin and Etymology of leaven

Middle English levain, from Anglo-French levein, from Vulgar Latin *levamen, from Latin levare to raise — more at lever


2

leaven

verb

Definition of leaven

leavened; leavening play \ˈlev-niŋ, ˈle-və-\
transitive verb
1 : to raise something, such as bread) with a leaven
2 : to mingle or permeate with some modifying, alleviating, or vivifying element; especially : lighten
  • a sermon leavened with humor

Examples of leaven in a Sentence

  1. He needs to leaven his speeches with more humor.

  2. using yeast to leaven the dough

Recent Examples of leaven from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'leaven.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of leaven

14th century

Synonym Discussion of leaven

infuse, suffuse, imbue, ingrain, inoculate, leaven mean to introduce one thing into another so as to affect it throughout. infuse implies a pouring in of something that gives new life or significance.
    • new members infused enthusiasm into the club
suffuse implies a spreading through of something that gives an unusual color or quality.
    • a room suffused with light
imbue implies the introduction of a quality that fills and permeates the whole being.
    • imbue students with intellectual curiosity
ingrain, used only in the passive or past participle, suggests the deep implanting of a quality or trait.
    • clung to ingrained habits
inoculate implies an imbuing or implanting with a germinal idea and often suggests stealth or subtlety.
    • an electorate inoculated with dangerous ideas
leaven implies introducing something that enlivens, tempers, or markedly alters the total quality.
    • a serious play leavened with comic moments

LEAVEN Defined for English Language Learners

leaven

noun

Definition of leaven for English Language Learners

  • : a substance (such as yeast) that makes dough rise and become light before it is baked

  • : something that makes a situation or mood less serious


leaven

verb

Definition of leaven for English Language Learners

  • : to make (something) less serious and often more exciting

  • : to add leaven to (bread, dough, etc.)


LEAVEN Defined for Kids

leaven

verb leav·en \ ˈle-vən \

Definition of leaven for Students

leavened; leavening
: to cause to rise by adding something (as baking powder) that produces a gas
  • leavened bread


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