Definition of ferment in English:



Pronunciation: /fəˈmɛnt/
  • 1[no object] (of a substance) undergo fermentation:

    ‘the drink had fermented, turning some of the juice into alcohol’
    • ‘But the film has clearly fermented beautifully, showing its age and era in the most delightful ways.’
    • ‘When milk ferments, naturally or aided by chemicals in the dairy, the milk changes into a solid fraction and a watery fraction (whey).’
    • ‘Otherwise, the sugar will ferment and could cause deadly salmonella poisoning to hummingbirds.’
    • ‘As red wine ferments, grape skins and pulp rise to the top of the tank, creating a ‘cap.’’
    • ‘As soy milk ferments easily, many such products available at supermarkets are loaded with preservatives.’
    • ‘It gets all these remarkable qualities from soybeans fermented with a special culture.’
    • ‘Mixed with water and sugar and flavored with ginger and other herbs, the rice ferments for 20 days to become alcoholic.’
    • ‘The palm juice gradually fermented into a complex and potent brew.’
    • ‘He just didn't see why he should have to subsidise the French wine industry (when a tub of crushed grapes would happily ferment in Spain, or Australia or even Bulgaria).’
    • ‘Therefore the distiller must let the skins from white grapes ferment before distilling them.’
    • ‘If kept at room temperature, the manure may eventually ferment or decompose, with significant breakdown of the solids.’
    • ‘Without lactase, milk and other lactose-rich foods ferment in the intestine, releasing excessive gas.’
    • ‘The strained juice ferments into an alcoholic beverage and is taken as a general tonic.’
    • ‘If fermented fruit on the ground is out of the question, so too is the notion that the fruit could ferment in the stomach of elephants, the study authors say.’
    • ‘It never tastes the same here because in those countries they put the barrels of beetroot on the roof where they freeze in the cold winters and the sugar ferments in the same way as applejack.’
    • ‘Next, the juice is placed in stainless steel tanks or oak barrels where the wine will ferment following the addition of yeast.’
    • ‘A type of sugar, glucose is manufactured in vast quantities, for example in corn syrup fermented from corn starch.’
    • ‘When the mulch is compacted too tight, this air flow cannot take place, and as the mulch continues to decompose it becomes extremely hot as the organic matter ferments.’
    • ‘Still produced in the same way to this very day, grapes are picked and pressed early in the growing season and the free-run juice fermented for ten days.’
    • ‘If left unattended, juices will ferment into wine.’
    undergo fermentation, brew
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[with object] Cause the fermentation of (a substance).
      • ‘It means that the winery itself actually crushed the grapes, fermented the juice and put the wine into bottles.’
      • ‘Yeast ferments the sugars in the malt to alcohol while the hops provide bitter flavour and aroma.’
      • ‘Experts disagree whether the yeasts that ferment sourdough bread cultures originate in the grain or the air, but you can be sure there are plenty of them available wherever you live.’
      • ‘People in ancient China, India and the Mediterranean region employed biochemistry for making bread with yeast, fermenting beer and wine, and treating diseases with plant and animal extracts.’
      • ‘Yeasts have been used for centuries by peoples worldwide to ferment sugar to alcohol; the drug penicillin was found in a mould.’
      • ‘The bacteria that live there release hydrogen and carbon dioxide when they ferment the lactose.’
      • ‘The starch stored in natural plant sugars is harvested and then the sugar is fermented into lactic acid.’
      • ‘It is a hard, crystalline substance which forms as grapes are fermented into wine.’
      • ‘When the beer is fully fermented it is transferred to bottles.’
      • ‘Good bacteria ferment lactose by converting it to lactic acid.’
      • ‘It is the tiny microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria which do the work, fermenting the sugars present in the fruits into alcohol and acids.’
      • ‘Native bacteria ferment natural sugars to lactic acid, a major flavoring and preservative in sauerkraut and in naturally fermented dills.’
      • ‘Half of the wine was fermented in stainless steel, the other in basically neutral oak barrels.’
      • ‘In the making of white wine, only the pressed juice of the grapes is fermented.’
      • ‘He ferments a mixture of locally produced milk, cow manure, ashes, and molasses.’
      • ‘In this case, the beer is fully fermented, then filtered to remove the yeast, then carbonated and stored in a tightly sealed keg, ready for immediate drinking.’
      • ‘However, he found that, when he added some of the boiled and presumably useless yeast juice to an active batch, the active yeast juice suddenly showed an increased capacity to ferment glucose.’
      • ‘What happens is that yeasts ferment the sugar in the grapes into alcohol, producing wine.’
      • ‘The mixture is then fermented with sugar, doused with water, covered for 7 days, and turned.’
      • ‘Because red wines are fermented with the grape skins, tannin levels are far higher in red wines than in white wines.’
  • 2[with object] Incite or stir up (trouble or disorder):

    ‘the politicians and warlords who are fermenting this chaos’
    • ‘Indiscreet activities by public officials are likely to drive ordinary people to ignore the law, thereby fermenting social unrest.’
    • ‘The problems this may pose have not been clearly defined and laid out for discussion, partly because they are not well understood but also because nobody wants to be accused of fermenting fear or hate.’
    • ‘I would not want anything to be said in relation to that that would ferment any problems.’
    • ‘‘The principal and his henchmen blamed us for fermenting trouble and putting dangerous ideas in the heads of young people,’ he says.’
    • ‘Apparently an army of anarchists is going to descend on Dublin from all corners of Europe and ferment trouble.’
    • ‘The problem is, that we can't ferment the democratic revolution ourselves, because most of the democratizers seem to be saying to us, keep your distance.’
    cause, bring on, bring about, give rise to, lead to, result in, generate, engender, spawn, instigate, prompt, provoke, incite, excite, arouse, stir up, whip up, foment, kindle, trigger off, spark off, touch off
    View synonyms


Pronunciation: /ˈfəːmɛnt/
  • 1[mass noun] Agitation and excitement among a group of people, typically concerning major change and leading to trouble or violence:

    ‘a period of political and religious ferment’
    • ‘More than 3,500 Scots, mainly woman and children, and their cats were killed in witch hunts at a time of political intrigue and religious ferment.’
    • ‘It was a time of excitement and cultural/political ferment.’
    • ‘So why hasn't this current era of political ferment summoned forth great literary and dramatic works that tackle and synthesise contemporary political and ideological movements in a creative and imaginative way?’
    • ‘We are entering a new period of important and hopeful change in America, a period comparable to those eras that unleashed such remarkable ferment in the period of Jefferson and Jackson and Roosevelt.’
    • ‘The ferment excited those pedagogical leaders who agreed with its direction, but it was disheartening for those teachers and parents who wanted schools and classrooms where the adults were in charge.’
    • ‘The underlying political ferment among many social strata is revealed by a growing number of smaller protests and meetings.’
    • ‘Out of this extraordinary ferment of experimentation came a major breakthrough.’
    • ‘Hollenstein's education also went on outside the studio classroom, for Munich was a major site of artistic ferment in the first decade of the twentieth century.’
    • ‘Political and religious ideas were also in ferment.’
    • ‘Much of this cultural ferment was a reaction to colonialism, as Nigerians were rediscovering their own cultures, their history, and forming a sense of their national identity.’
    • ‘It was into this milieu of religious ferment, focused in particular on the temple and Jerusalem, that John the Baptist and Jesus came.’
    • ‘In this ferment, a group of men meeting often in the apartments and taverns of the High Street - ministers, lawyers, private individuals - set themselves to examine the changed environment.’
    • ‘There is still the sense of scientific, political and religious ferment, although Pears is a much more literary writer.’
    • ‘His analysis of the causes of agrarian unrest and ferment in Punjab was proved correct.’
    • ‘That suggests greater ferment - and more excitement - in Singapore's arts scene.’
    • ‘By polarising discontent, it is transforming it from ferment to turmoil into energy spent constructively.’
    • ‘Doubt, anxiety, and inward contemplation remain cornerstones of modern thinking and subjectivity, and their origins can be traced back to the religious ferment of the period 1400-1600.’
    • ‘It was August 1942 and the country was in ferment.’
    • ‘The Quaker movement started in England in the mid-17th century, a time of great religious and political ferment.’
    • ‘But the intellectual firepower that underlies any such revolution is growing; the region is in the throes of genuine pro-democratic ferment.’
    fever, furore, frenzy, tumult, storm, flurry, bustle, hubbub, brouhaha, stir, fuss, stew, ruckus, clamour
    turmoil, upheaval, unrest, disquiet, uproar, agitation, turbulence, hurly-burly, excitement, disruption, confusion, disorder, chaos, mayhem
    hoo-ha, to-do, rumpus
    kerfuffle, carry-on, aggro, argy-bargy, hoopla
    moil, coil
    View synonyms
  • 2archaic A fermenting agent or enzyme.

    • ‘In my opinion, the albuminous materials were never the ferments, but the nutrients of the ferment.’
    • ‘Namely, do you believe in ‘reality,’ or more specifically, ‘did ferments exist before Pasteur made them up?’’
    • ‘The recent literature on ferments seemed to indicate that enzymes were a more likely candidate.’
    • ‘They have a slightly gamy flavour, due to the enzymes or ferments from the gut.’
    leavening, ferment, fermentation agent, raising agent, yeast, barm, baking powder
    View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Old French ferment (noun), fermenter (verb), based on Latin fermentum yeast, from fervere to boil.