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An illustration of a fomentation or poultice (sense 2) applied to the wrist

From Middle English fōmentāciǒun (act of fomenting; lotion or poultice applied to a diseased part of the body), from Late Latin fōmentātiōn, fōmentātiōnem, from fomentare[1] (from fōmentum (lotion; compress, poultice; warm application; fomentation), from foveō (to warm, keep warm; to cherish, nurture; to bathe, foment),[2] ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *dʰegʷʰ- (to burn; warm, hot)) + -ātiō, -ātiōnem (suffix forming a noun relating to some action or the result of an action); analysable as foment +‎ -ation.



fomentation (plural fomentations)

  1. The act of fomenting; the application of warm, soft, medicinal substances, as for the purpose of easing pain by relaxing the skin, or of discussing (dispersing) tumours.
    • 1827 May 1, “XXVI. Spreading Ulcer of the Nose.”, in James Copland, John Darwall, and John Conolly, editors, The London Medical Repository and Review, volume XXVII, number 161 (New Series, volume IV, number XXIII), London: Printed for Thomas and John Underwood, 32 Fleet Street, OCLC 874893197, page 465:
      Twenty leeches were ordered to be applied round the nose every two days; frequent emollient fomentations; the local vapour bath; general bathing; stimulating pedilavia; a strict regimen; vegetables, milk, white meats; demulcent or acidulated drinks; avoidance of exposure to the sun or to cold air; flannel waistcoat and trousers. This treatment, being strictly observed for two months, caused all the inflammatory symptoms to disappear, []
  2. A lotion or poultice applied to a diseased or injured part of the body.
  3. Encouragement; excitation; instigation.


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