leaven

[ lev-uhn ]
/ ˈlɛv ən /

noun

a substance, as yeast or baking powder, that causes fermentation and expansion of dough or batter.
fermented dough reserved for producing fermentation in a new batch of dough.
an element that produces an altering or transforming influence.

verb (used with object)

to add leaven to (dough or batter) and cause to rise.
to permeate with an altering or transforming element.

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Origin of leaven

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English levain, levein, leven, from Anglo-French levein, levain, Old French levain, from Vulgar Latin levāmen (unrecorded) “means of raising or lifting,” from Latin levāmen “alleviation, mitigation, relief,” derivative of levā(re) “to raise, lift up; relieve, reduce” + -men noun suffix
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for leaven

British Dictionary definitions for leaven

leaven
/ (ˈlɛvən) /

noun Also: leavening

any substance that produces fermentation in dough or batter, such as yeast, and causes it to rise
a piece of such a substance kept to ferment a new batch of dough
an agency or influence that produces a gradual change

verb (tr)

to cause fermentation in (dough or batter)
to pervade, causing a gradual change, esp with some moderating or enlivening influence

Word Origin for leaven

C14: via Old French ultimately from Latin levāmen relief, (hence, raising agent, leaven), from levāre to raise
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