Also called leavening agent. a substance used to produce fermentation in dough or batter; leaven.
the act or process of causing to ferment by leaven.

Origin of leavening

First recorded in 1600–10; leaven + -ing1


[lev-uh n]


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.

Origin of leaven

1300–50; Middle English levain < Anglo-French, Old French levain < Vulgar Latin *levāmen, equivalent to Latin levā(re) to raise + -men deverbal noun suffix (probably not continuous with Latin levāmen means of alleviating, solace)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for leavening

Contemporary Examples of leavening

  • So why do we hear so many professors describe their pupils as hostile to learning, with a leavening of indolence?

    The Daily Beast logo
    Everyone Should Go to College

    Andrew Hacker

    August 28, 2011

Historical Examples of leavening

British Dictionary definitions for leavening


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

Word Origin and History for leavening



c.1400, from leaven (n.). Related: Leavened; leavening.



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper