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See also: Foam


Sea foam


From Middle English fom, foom, from Old English fām, from Proto-West Germanic *faim, from Proto-Germanic *faimaz, from Proto-Indo-European *(s)poHy-m-os, from *(s)poH(y)- (foam). Cognate with German Feim (foam), Latin spūma (foam), Latin pūmex (pumice), Sanskrit फेन (phéna, foam), possibly Northern Kurdish (epilepsy).



foam (countable and uncountable, plural foams)

  1. A substance composed of a large collection of bubbles or their solidified remains, especially:
    Synonym: froth
    • 2013 May-June, Charles T. Ambrose, “Alzheimer’s Disease”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3, page 200:
      Similar studies of rats have employed four different intracranial resorbable, slow sustained release systems—surgical foam, a thermal gel depot, a microcapsule or biodegradable polymer beads.
    1. A collection of small bubbles created when the surface of a body of water is moved by tides, wind, etc.
      Synonyms: surf, spindrift, spume, spray
      • c. 1605–1608, William Shakespeare, “The Life of Tymon of Athens”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene i]:
        ’Tis thou that rigg’st the bark and plough’st the foam,
      • 1798, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in Lyrical Ballads, London: J. & A. Arch, p. 12,[1]
        The breezes blew, the white foam flew, / The furrow follow’d free: / We were the first that ever burst / Into that silent Sea.
      • 1838, Edgar Allan Poe, “Siope”, in Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque[2], volume 2, Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, published 1840, page 22:
        And the heaven became livid with the violence of the tempest [] and the river was tormented into foam []
      • 1969, Elechi Amadi, chapter 5, in The Great Ponds,[3], London: Heinemann, published 1970, page 45:
        Many [of the fish-traps] were full of fish that raised foam as they splashed about.
    2. A collection of small bubbles formed from bodily fluids such as saliva or sweat.
    3. A collection of small bubbles on the surface of a liquid that is heated, fermented or carbonated.
      Synonyms: effervescence, fizz, head, mousse
    4. A collection of small bubbles created by mixing soap with water.
      Synonyms: lather, suds
    5. (firefighting) A collection of small bubbles formed by mixing an extinguishing agent with water, used to cover and extinguish fires.
  2. A material formed by trapping pockets of gas in a liquid or solid.
    A foam mat can soften a hard seat.
  3. (figuratively, poetic) The sea.
    He is in Europe, across the foam.
    • 1595, Edmund Spenser, Epithalamion:
      How slowly does sad Time his feathers moue? / Hast thee O fayrest Planet to thy home / Within the Westerne fome:
    • 1885, Robert Louis Stevenson, “Foreign Children”, in A Child’s Garden of Verses[8], London: Longmans, Green, page 34:
      You must dwell beyond the foam, / But I am safe and live at home.
    • 1918, Norman Lindsay, The Magic Pudding, Sydney: Angus and Robertson, page 171:
      But as for me, I'd sooner be
      A-roaring here at home
      About the rolling, roaring life
      Of them that sails the foam.
  4. Fury.

Derived terms[edit]



foam (third-person singular simple present foams, present participle foaming, simple past and past participle foamed)

  1. (intransitive) To form or emit foam.
  2. (intransitive) To spew saliva as foam; to foam at the mouth.
    • c. 1591–1592 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Third Part of Henry the Sixt, []”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene i]:
      [] to London will we march amain,
      And once again bestride our foaming steeds,
      And once again cry ‘Charge upon our foes!’
      But never once again turn back and fly.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Mark 9:17-18:
      Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away.
    • 1749, [John Cleland], “[Letter the First]”, in Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure [Fanny Hill], volume I, London: [] G. Fenton [i.e., Fenton and Ralph Griffiths] [], →OCLC:
      But I was talking to the wind; for whether my tears, my attitude, or the disorder of my dress prov'd fresh incentives, or whether he was not under the dominion of desires he could not bridle, but snorting and foaming with lust and rage, he renews his attack, seizes me, and again attempts to extend and fix me on the settee []
  3. (firefighting) To coat or cover with foam.
    It used to be common practice to foam the runway prior to an emergency landing, in case a fuel-fed fire occurred.

Derived terms[edit]