leaven

noun
leav·​en | \ ˈle-vən How to pronounce leaven (audio) \

Definition of leaven

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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

leaven

verb
leavened; leavening\ ˈlev-​niŋ How to pronounce leavening (audio) , ˈle-​və-​ \

Definition of leaven (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Choose the Right Synonym for leaven

Verb

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

Examples of leaven in a Sentence

Noun

a serious book that includes a few humorous stories as leaven

Verb

He needs to leaven his speeches with more humor. using yeast to leaven the dough
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Humans have eaten sourdough since the ancient Egyptians were grinding grains and leavening bread thousands of years ago. Keri Wiginton, Bon Appetit, "Why Some Gluten-Sensitive People Can Still Eat Sourdough Bread," 16 Apr. 2018 Those folks have dispersed throughout the gaming industry and done fantastic work, acting like leavening in bread. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "Video: The people who helped make Star Control 2 did a ton of other stuff," 26 Oct. 2018 What follows is a chronicle of mounting desperation, but one that Mr. Lonergan has leavened with wry comedy and a full appreciation of the Gladys who used to be. Terry Teachout, WSJ, "‘The Waverly Gallery’ Review: A Harrowingly Honest, yet Humorous, Group Portrait," 25 Oct. 2018 Woods brings the requisite dyspeptic wit to the role, leavened with just enough wistfulness to make the final scene downright wrenching. Kerry Reid, chicagotribune.com, "'Cyrano' gets a witty update at BoHo without losing the fun swordplay," 12 Mar. 2018 This near-tragedy of neglect is leavened by the eccentric charm of its central figures. Glenn Kenny, New York Times, "Review: ‘That Summer’ Sheds Light on the Beales Before ‘Grey Gardens’," 17 May 2018 The humor leavens what could potentially be a maudlin topic, a 71-year-old man who has survived two bouts with cancer contemplating his mortality. Greg Kot, chicagotribune.com, "John Prine proves he's more entertaining than a dog bite," 19 Apr. 2018 Pearl ash, made by baking potash in a kiln, was used as a leavening agent in breads before the creation of baking powder. Renae Reints, Fortune, "Take a Look at the 10 Millionth U.S. Patent (And the First)," 20 June 2018 The Inmans hired the flamboyant decorator Ruby Ross Wood, who managed to leaven their conservative instincts in interior design with a certain whimsy of her own. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "A Visit to Atlanta's Historic Swan House, Where Whimsy and Chintz Still Reign," 27 Apr. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of leaven

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for leaven

Noun

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

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Time Traveler for leaven

The first known use of leaven was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for leaven

leaven

noun

English Language Learners Definition of leaven

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a substance (such as yeast) that makes dough rise and become light before it is baked
literary : something that makes a situation or mood less serious

leaven

verb

English Language Learners Definition of leaven (Entry 2 of 2)

formal : to make (something) less serious and often more exciting
: to add leaven to (bread, dough, etc.)

leaven

verb
leav·​en | \ ˈle-vən How to pronounce leaven (audio) \
leavened; leavening

Kids Definition of leaven

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on leaven

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with leaven

Spanish Central: Translation of leaven

Nglish: Translation of leaven for Spanish Speakers

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