from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. An agent, such as yeast, that causes batter or dough to rise, especially by fermentation.
- n. An element, influence, or agent that works subtly to lighten, enliven, or modify a whole.
- transitive v. To add a rising agent to.
- transitive v. To cause to rise, especially by fermentation.
- transitive v. To pervade with a lightening, enlivening, or modifying influence.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. Any agent used to make dough rise or to have a similar effect on baked goods.
- v. To add a leavening agent.
- v. To cause to rise by fermentation.
- v. To temper an action or decision.
- v. To imbue; to infect; to vitiate.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. Any substance that produces, or is designed to produce, fermentation, as in dough or liquids; esp., a portion of fermenting dough, which, mixed with a larger quantity of dough, produces a general change in the mass, and renders it light; yeast; barm.
- n. Anything which makes a general assimilating (especially a corrupting) change in the mass.
- transitive v. To make light by the action of leaven; to cause to ferment.
- transitive v. To imbue; to infect; to vitiate.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. See leven.
- n. A substance that produces or is designed to produce fermentation, especially in dough; specifically, a mass of fermenting dough, which, mixed with a larger quantity of dough or paste, produces fermentation in it and renders it light.
- n. Something that resembles leaven in its effects, as some secret or impalpable influence working a general change, especially a change for the worse.
- To excite fermentation in; raise and make light, as dough or paste.
- To imbue; work upon by some invisible or powerful influence.
- To ripen; mature.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. an influence that works subtly to lighten or modify something
- v. cause to puff up with a leaven
- n. a substance used to produce fermentation in dough or a liquid
Middle English, from Old French levain, from Vulgar Latin *levāmen, from Latin levāre, to raise; see legwh- in Indo-European roots.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English levain, from Old French, from Late Latin levamen, instead of levamentum, ultimately from Latin levō ("I raise"). (Wiktionary)