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 The Shelby discussion is leavened by one of the book’s several LOL moments, as the two go back and forth on their favorite RBG T-shirts. Julie Cohen, Washington Post, "Talking with Ruth Bader Ginsburg about case law and T-shirts," 8 Nov. 2019 And at its best, Euphoria leavens its earnestness with twisted flights of surreality. Constance Grady, Vox, "Why Euphoria’s messy season finale could mean great things for the show’s future," 11 Aug. 2019 But its hope for the future was leavened by its fear of the unknown. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, "Brave new worlds, on view at the Mead Art Museum," 14 June 2019 Mixed with acidic soured milk or buttermilk that might otherwise have gone to waste, baking soda created a chemical reaction that made possible the gas bubbles that leaven these breads. Robin Mather, chicagotribune.com, "How to use summer’s bounty in quick breads that go sweet or savory," 16 July 2019 Baking soda can lose its ability to leaven in as little as six months, at which point it should be removed from service and relegated to cleaning and fridge odor-absorbing duty. Jesse Sparks, Bon Appétit, "9 Pantry Staples You Probably Need to Replace," 3 Sep. 2019 Some welcome wry banter between the house's head cook (Yvonne De Bray) and its always-hungry math teacher (Suzanne Dehelly) leavens the hormonal intensity while also confirming that the drama isn't all in Olivia's head. John Defore, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Olivia': Film Review," 15 Aug. 2019 But the notion that a casino in a poor neighborhood will spur economic development must be leavened by an immediate understanding that the most frequent players likely will live nearby. Chris Jones, chicagotribune.com, "More and more, Vegas relies on shows, concerts — anything but gambling. Chicago needs to learn this lesson now.," 23 July 2019 Such grimness is leavened by a text brimming with wit, unpredictable events and vivid characters. Tom Nolan, WSJ, "Mysteries: The Dangers of Listening to Podcasts," 21 June 2019

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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Statistics for leaven

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
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

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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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