ferment, foment
1. Ferment is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable as a noun and with the stress on the second syllable as a verb.
2. As verbs, ferment and foment are often confused because they are pronounced approximately the same way and their uses overlap in their figurative meanings. To ferment means literally ‘to effervesce or cause to effervesce’ (from Latin fervēre meaning ‘to boil’) and figuratively ‘to excite or become excited’; and so it can be transitive (with an object) or intransitive: you can ferment trouble or trouble can ferment. Foment means literally ‘to bathe with warm or medicated liquid’ (from Latin fomentum meaning ‘poultice’) and figuratively ‘to instigate or stir up’ (especially trouble). Foment is only transitive: you can foment trouble but trouble cannot foment. Examples:

• Gladstone's complaint in 1874 that the opposition fomented by the Daily News had been ‘one main cause’ of the weakness of his late government was, of course, a simplism —Times Literary Supplement, 1977

• He hosted the meetings where the rebellion was fomented which ousted Mrs Thatcher from power —Today, 1992

• What are the TUC on about? Why are they fermenting trouble at this of all moments? —People, 2002

• They funded courses in car mechanics and carpentry as a chance to own a business for unemployed young men whose frustration was fermenting dangerously —Sunday Times, 2007.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Foment — Fo*ment , v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Fomented}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Fomenting}.] [F. fomenter, fr. L. fomentare, fr. fomentum (for fovimentum) a warm application or lotion, fr. fovere to warm or keep warm; perh. akin to Gr. ? to roast, and E. bake.] 1. To …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Foment — Fo ment, n. 1. Fomentation. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] 2. State of excitation; perh. confused with ferment. He came in no conciliatory mood, and the foment was kept up. Julian Ralph. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • foment — [fō ment′] vt. [ME fomenten < OFr fomenter < LL fomentare < L fomentum, poultice < fovere, to keep warm < IE * dhogwh < base * dhegwh , to burn > Sans dáhati, (it) burns, MIr daig, fire] 1. to treat with warm water, medicated …   English World dictionary

  • Fomēnt — (v. lat.), warmer Umschlag; daher Fomentiren warme Umschläge machen; Fomentation, so v.w. Bähung; Fomentativ, Bähung erzeugend …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Fomént — (Fomentation, lat.), warmer Umschlag (s. Bähung); fomentieren, bähen, warm halten …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Fomént — (lat.), warmer Umschlag; Fomentation, s.v.w. Bähung; fomentatīv, bähend, Bähung erzeugend; fomentieren, bähen, warmhalten …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Foment — Foment, lat. deutsch, warmer Umschlag; F.ation, Bähung; f.ativ, bähend; f.iren, bähen, warm umschlagen …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • foment — I verb abet, agitate, aid, arouse, awaken, call forth, encourage, engender, enkindle, excite, ferment, fire, foster, fovere, galvanize, goad, impassion, incite, infect, inflame, infuse life into, inspirit, instigate, kindle, promote, provoke,… …   Law dictionary

  • foment — (v.) early 15c., apply hot liquids, from O.Fr. fomenter (13c.) apply hot compress (to a wound), from L.L. fomentare, from L. fomentum warm application, poultice, contraction of *fovimentum, from fovere to warm; cherish, encourage (see FEVER (Cf.… …   Etymology dictionary

  • foment — abet, *incite, instigate Analogous words: goad, spur (see corresponding nouns at MOTIVE): stimulate, quicken, excite, galvanize, *provoke: nurture, *nurse, foster, cultivate Antonyms: quell Contrasted words: *suppress, repress: check, curb, * …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • foment — [v] instigate, provoke abet, agitate, arouse, brew, cultivate, encourage, excite, fan the flames*, foster, goad, incite, nurse, nurture, promote, quicken, raise, set, set on, sow the seeds*, spur, start, stimulate, stir up, whip up*; concepts… …   New thesaurus

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