[ noun fur-ment; verb fer-ment ]
See synonyms for: fermentfermentedfermenting on Thesaurus.com

  1. Also called organized ferment. any of a group of living organisms, as yeasts, molds, and certain bacteria, that cause fermentation.

  2. Also called unorganized ferment. an enzyme.

  1. agitation; unrest; excitement; commotion; tumult: The new painters worked in a creative ferment. The capital lived in a political ferment.

verb (used with object)
  1. to act upon as a ferment.

  2. to cause to undergo fermentation.

  1. to inflame; foment: to ferment prejudiced crowds to riot.

  2. to cause agitation or excitement in: Reading fermented his active imagination.

verb (used without object)
  1. to be fermented; undergo fermentation.

  2. to seethe with agitation or excitement.

Origin of ferment

1350–1400; Middle English <Latin fermentum yeast (noun), fermentāre to cause to rise (v.); akin to barm, Latin fervēre to boil

Other words from ferment

  • fer·ment·a·ble, adjective
  • fer·ment·a·bil·i·ty, noun
  • non·fer·ment·a·bil·i·ty, noun
  • non·fer·ment·a·ble, adjective
  • non·fer·ment·ed, adjective
  • non·fer·ment·ing, adjective
  • un·fer·ment·a·ble, adjective
  • un·fer·ment·ed, adjective
  • un·fer·ment·ing, adjective
  • well-fer·ment·ed, adjective

Words that may be confused with ferment

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use ferment in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ferment


  1. any agent or substance, such as a bacterium, mould, yeast, or enzyme, that causes fermentation

  2. another word for fermentation

  1. commotion; unrest

  1. to undergo or cause to undergo fermentation

  2. to stir up or seethe with excitement

Origin of ferment

C15: from Latin fermentum yeast, from fervēre to seethe


See foment

Derived forms of ferment

  • fermentable, adjective
  • fermentability, noun
  • fermenter, noun

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