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 Most home sourdough bakers know that their starter contains a vibrant herd of microbes, which leaven and flavor their bread. Bob Holmes, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Scientific Secrets Behind Making Great Sourdough Bread," 18 Aug. 2020 The ancient Egyptians used yeast to leaven bread and brew beer, and the ancient Babylonians used a fermenting technique to preserve meat sausages. Miriam Fauzia, USA TODAY, "Fact check: More studies needed to examine link between fermented foods, COVID-19," 15 Jan. 2019 The surest protection in the long term is a citizenry that works both to strengthen democracy and to leaven it with decency. Christopher J. Sprigman, The New Republic, "A Constitutional Weapon for Biden to Vanquish Trump’s Army of Judges," 20 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, "The Scientific Secrets Behind Making Great Sourdough Bread," 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, Scientific American, "The Science of Sourdough: How Microbes Enabled a Pandemic Pastime," 13 Aug. 2020 Most home sourdough bakers know that their starter contains a vibrant herd of microbes, which leaven and flavor their bread. Bob Holmes, Scientific American, "The Science of Sourdough: How Microbes Enabled a Pandemic Pastime," 13 Aug. 2020 Baggu founder and chief executive Emily Sugihara said the company is known for its colorful patterns and wanted to offer similarly quirky masks to help leaven an otherwise grim health crisis. Washington Post, "Struggling U.S. manufacturers pivot to one product where sales are actually booming: Masks," 5 Aug. 2020 Active dry yeast is sold in packets or small jars and provides an airy, light texture, while adding a punch of wheat-y, nutty flavor to whatever it is used to leaven. Sara Tane, Good Housekeeping, "Should I Use Active Dry Yeast or Instant Yeast? How to Choose the Right One," 29 June 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.

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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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for leaven

Cite this Entry

“Leaven.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leaven. Accessed 21 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for leaven

leaven

noun
How to pronounce leaven (audio)

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

More from Merriam-Webster on leaven

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for leaven

Nglish: Translation of leaven for Spanish Speakers

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