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verb (used with object)
  1. to instigate or foster (discord, rebellion, etc.); promote the growth or development of: to foment trouble; to foment discontent.
  2. to apply warm water or medicated liquid, ointments, etc., to (the surface of the body).
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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 formsfo·ment·er, nounun·fo·ment·ed, adjective
Can be confusedferment foment


See more synonyms for foment on Thesaurus.com
1. incite, provoke, arouse, inflame, excite, stir up; encourage, stimulate.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for foment


verb (tr)
  1. to encourage or instigate (trouble, discord, etc); stir up
  2. med to apply heat and moisture to (a part of the body) to relieve pain and inflammation
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Derived Formsfomentation (ˌfəʊmɛnˈteɪʃən), nounfomenter, noun

Word Origin

C15: from Late Latin fōmentāre, from Latin fōmentum a poultice, ultimately from fovēre to foster


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
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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper