- 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.
- to add leaven to (dough or batter) and cause to rise.
- to permeate with an altering or transforming element.
Origin of leaven
Examples from the Web for leaven
“So you give the right information” but leaven it with laughs.Al Roker on His Live ‘Today’ Prostate Exam
November 7, 2013
He compares it to little things, to a tiny seed, to a handful of leaven, to a pearl.De Profundis
I could feel the leaven working in his soul, you understand.Under Western Eyes
It is hard to say if there might not have been some leaven of "pique" in these reasonings.The Daltons, Volume II (of II)
Charles James Lever
One can hardly conceive how disagreeable this leaven was to the taste.Perils and Captivity
Charlotte-Adlade [ne Picard] Dard
The leaven of the psychology of independence was getting in its work.Blow The Man Down
- 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
- to cause fermentation in (dough or batter)
- to pervade, causing a gradual change, esp with some moderating or enlivening influence
Word Origin and History for leaven
mid-14c., from Old French levain "leaven, sourdough" (12c.), from Latin levamen "alleviation, mitigation," but used in Vulgar Latin in its literal sense of "a means of lifting, something that raises," from levare "to raise" (see lever). Figurative use from late 14c.
c.1400, from leaven (n.). Related: Leavened; leavening.