Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To promote the growth of; incite.
  • transitive v. To treat (the skin, for example) by fomentation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To incite or cause troublesome acts; to encourage; to instigate.
  • v. To apply a poultice to; to bathe with a cloth or sponge.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Fomentation.
  • n. State of excitation; -- perh. confused with ferment.
  • transitive v. To apply a warm lotion to; to bathe with a cloth or sponge wet with warm water or medicated liquid.
  • transitive v. To cherish with heat; to foster.
  • transitive v. To nurse to life or activity; to cherish and promote by excitements; to encourage; to abet; to instigate; -- used often in a bad sense.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To apply warm lotions to; bathe with warm medicated liquids or warm water.
  • To cherish with heat; encourage or promote the growth of by or as if by heat.
  • To encourage; abet; instigate or promote by incitement: commonly used in a bad sense: as, to foment discord.
  • n. A warm lotion; fomentation.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. try to stir up public opinion
  • v. bathe with warm water or medicated lotions

Etymologies

Middle English fomenten, to apply warm liquids to the skin, from Old French fomenter, from Late Latin fōmentāre, from Latin fōmentum, poultice, from fovēre, to warm.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French fomenter, from Late Latin fomentare, from Latin fomentum ("lotion"), from fovere ("heat, cherish"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • That money should have gone to build up schools and foment democracy (Sen. Obama: please do not use the word "foment" - I'm not sure what it means).

    Matt Littman: Friday Night's Debate: How Obama Can Deliver the KO

  • Speak platitudes in English, foment terrorism in Arabic and the United States will apply pressure to fellow democracies over and against those who rule by bullets rather than ballots. "

    CNN Transcript Mar 25, 2002

  • Putting aside for the moment my surprise that Dubya even knows the meaning of the word "foment," I think a GOP talking point i.e., what Tony Snow will say will be that Dubya said Friedman could be right, not that he actually was right.

    Archive 2006-10-15

  • Jon Green, the director of Connecticut Working Families, told the New York Times on Friday that his group would be "peaceful and lawful" and would not "foment" lingering rage at AIG

    Latest Articles

  • Jon Green, the director of Connecticut Working Families, told the New York Times on Friday that his group would be "peaceful and lawful" and would not "foment" lingering rage at AIG "unnecessarily."

    Latest Articles

  • The nut graph is this one, where Cramer explains how easy it is to create "foment" around a stock:

    Business and financial news - CNNMoney.com

  • Isn't it weird that you never know about the s*** that's in the products you use until there's some kind of foment to take it out?

    Archive 2007-12-01

  • Countries that fear modernity, that cling to dogma, that exclude women, that foment ethnic divisions—they cannot seem to make progress and join the modern world.

    The Good Fight

  • F.D.R. had to betray his own class to foment the reforms of the New Deal.

    Sunday Reading

  • You are deservedly a popular pastoral Poet but I mean to be of the mind that lucky circumstances and not your real merit as a Poet which is very great brought about your popularity & success — 'There is a tide in the affairs of men' [3] which brings about what no merit would — but which merit does after set and foment

    Letter 130

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Comments

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  • "One key reason the Central Asians love to do business with China is that the Middle Kingdom, unlike both Russia and the United States, carries little modern imperial baggage. And of course, China will never carp about human rights or foment a color-coded revolution of any sort."
    - Pepe Escobar, Blue Gold, Turkmen Bashes, and Asian Grids, tomdispatch.com, 12 May 2009.

    May 13, 2009

  • "The power of the keyword search has combined with the richness of the World Wide Web to foment a revolution in the way we do business." author Peter Morville in his book Ambient Findability

    January 3, 2007