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From Middle French ferment, from Latin fermentare (to leaven, ferment), from fermentum (substance causing fermentation), from fervere (to boil, seethe). See also fervent.



ferment (third-person singular simple present ferments, present participle fermenting, simple past and past participle fermented)

  1. To react, using fermentation; especially to produce alcohol by aging or by allowing yeast to act on sugars; to brew.
  2. To stir up, agitate, cause unrest or excitement in.
    • 1713, Alexander Pope, Windsor Forest:
      Ye vigorous swains! while youth ferments your blood.
    • 1726, James Thomson, “Winter”, in The Seasons, London: Printed for A[ndrew] Millar, and sold by Thomas Cadell, [], published 1768, OCLC 642619686, lines 10–14, page 165:
      Pleas'd have I wander'd thro' your rough domain; / Trod the pure virgin-ſnows, myſelf as pure; / Heard the winds roar, and the big torrent burſt; / Or ſeen the deep fermenting tempeſt brew'd, / In the grim evening ſky.



ferment (plural ferments)

  1. Something, such as a yeast or barm, that causes fermentation.
  2. A state of agitation or of turbulent change.
    • (Can we date this quote by Rogers and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      Subdue and cool the ferment of desire.
    • (Can we date this quote by Walpole and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      The nation is in a ferment.
    • 1919, Ronald Firbank, Valmouth, Duckworth, hardback edition, page 104
      Clad in a Persian-Renaissance gown and a widow's tiara of white batiste, Mrs Thoroughfare, in all the ferment of a Marriage-Christening, left her chamber on vapoury autumn day and descending a few stairs, and climbing a few others, knocked a trifle brusquely at her son's wife's door.
  3. A gentle internal motion of the constituent parts of a fluid; fermentation.
    • (Can we date this quote by Thomson and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      Down to the lowest lees the ferment ran.
  4. A catalyst.


See also[edit]






  1. third-person plural present indicative of fermer
  2. third-person plural present subjunctive of fermer