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 leaven (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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But touches like the Ron Swanson leaven the deep thoughts with a little fun. al, 7 Sep. 2021 During the seven or eight-day festival, all leaven, in bread or otherwise, is prohibited, and only matzo — unleavened bread — may be eaten, which symbolizes Hebrew suffering while in slavery and their ensuing deliverance and exodus. Andre Toran, The Courier-Journal, 25 Mar. 2021 To leaven the choice, Bush designated Bob Teeter to be deputy chief of staff. Tevi Troy, Washington Examiner, 18 Feb. 2021 The first casualty of that policy could be the handful of lighter and quirky bills that usually leaven each session. Washington Post, 29 Nov. 2020 This traps the air bubbles, which helps leaven the cookies along with the baking powder. Katlyn Moncada, Better Homes & Gardens, 29 Oct. 2020 Over all, Lee and Byrne leaven the heaviness with hope, which could be dismissed as a commercial strategy but feels like an underlying ethic. Manohla Dargis, New York Times, 15 Oct. 2020 Most home sourdough bakers know that their starter contains a vibrant herd of microbes, which leaven and flavor their bread. Bob Holmes, Smithsonian Magazine, 18 Aug. 2020 By Days 10 to 14, the starter has settled into a stable state where yeasts and lactic acid bacteria grow vigorously, the yeasts producing enough carbon dioxide to leaven a loaf of bread. Bob Holmes, Smithsonian Magazine, 18 Aug. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About leaven

Time Traveler for leaven

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near leaven

leave much to be desired

leaven

leavening

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for leaven

Cite this Entry

“Leaven.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leaven. Accessed 24 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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
: something that makes a situation or mood less serious

leaven

verb

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

: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on leaven

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for leaven

Nglish: Translation of leaven for Spanish Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!