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[foh-ment] /foʊˈmɛnt/
verb (used with object)
to instigate or foster (discord, rebellion, etc.); promote the growth or development of:
to foment trouble; to foment discontent.
to apply warm water or medicated liquid, ointments, etc., to (the surface of the body).
Origin of foment
1350-1400; Middle English fomenten < Late Latin fōmentāre, verbal derivative of Latin fōmentum soothing application, poultice, contraction of *fōvimentum, equivalent to fōv(ēre) to keep warm + -i- -i- + -mentum -ment
Related forms
fomenter, noun
unfomented, adjective
Can be confused
ferment, foment.
1. incite, provoke, arouse, inflame, excite, stir up; encourage, stimulate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for foment


verb (transitive)
to encourage or instigate (trouble, discord, etc); stir up
(med) to apply heat and moisture to (a part of the body) to relieve pain and inflammation
Derived Forms
fomentation (ˌfəʊmɛnˈteɪʃən) noun
fomenter, noun
Usage note
Both foment and ferment can be used to talk about stirring up trouble: he was accused of fomenting/fermenting unrest. Only ferment can be used intransitively or as a noun: his anger continued to ferment (not foment); rural areas were unaffected by the ferment in the cities
Word Origin
C15: from Late Latin fōmentāre, from Latin fōmentum a poultice, ultimately from fovēre to foster
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for foment

early 15c., "apply hot liquids," from Old French fomenter (13c.) "apply hot compress (to a wound)," from Late Latin fomentare, from Latin fomentum "warm application, poultice," contraction of *fovimentum, from fovere "to warm; cherish, encourage" (see fever). Extended sense of "stimulate, instigate" (1620s) was in the French. Related: Fomented; fomenting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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