Definition of foment in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Instigate or stir up (an undesirable or violent sentiment or course of action)

    ‘they accused him of fomenting political unrest’
    • ‘Nuclear weapons research went on, but beyond the public gaze and without any open attempt to foment jingoism or gain political mileage.’
    • ‘He told the Post that military action would foment a political crisis in the Middle East, which, he said, could ignite the rise of radicalism.’
    • ‘It is used to foment fear and political disorientation as a means of pushing through policies that were previously politically unthinkable.’
    • ‘They could use their combat skills to foment a violent revolution.’
    • ‘In fact, we think she's a Utopian sent to foment unrest within the Confederacy.’
    • ‘The question, of course, is ‘Will he foment violence?’’
    • ‘But the government is surely watching, aware that Internet discussions can foment unrest.’
    • ‘Some sharp-tongued commentators even take delight in instigating crowds and fomenting a rebellion.’
    • ‘If the mediascape is not open and pluralistic, these viewpoints may leave the democratic sphere and foment violence.’
    • ‘The economic crisis fomented significant unrest in both countries, leading to a rise in nationalist fervor and rhetoric.’
    • ‘The same is true as we now try to deport people who are inciting hatred and fomenting extremism in the Muslim community.’
    • ‘That detention, according to authorities, was for his own safety, which later changed when he was charged with fomenting violence.’
    • ‘The fairies created fairy dust to foment, or stir up trouble.’
    • ‘This has already had the effect of increasing tensions and is fomenting political hatred.’
    • ‘The working class must reject all such attempts to foment nationalist sentiments in the name of defending the welfare state.’
    • ‘Most people can sense a ‘grand design’ to bring Indonesia to its knees by fomenting violence and unrest across the archipelago.’
    • ‘These religious schools still preach an insidious doctrine that foments the sectarian violence that is increasingly a threat to the stability of Pakistan.’
    • ‘But by the same token, it's not a good thing for them to be fomenting world opinion against us either.’
    • ‘Likewise, religious extremists who foment violence should have their speech restricted.’
    instigate, incite, provoke, agitate, excite, stir up, whip up, arouse, inspire, encourage, urge, actuate, initiate, generate, cause, prompt, start, bring about, kindle, spark off, trigger off, touch off, fan the flames of
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  • 2archaic Bathe (a part of the body) with warm or medicated lotions.

    • ‘Foment the limb with cloths immersed in a strong decoction of hops, and repeat two or three times a day.’
    • ‘The ear may likewise be fomented with steams of warm water, or flannel bags filled with boiled mallows and camomile flowers may be applied to it warm.’


Late Middle English (in foment (sense 2)): from French fomenter, from late Latin fomentare, from Latin fomentum ‘poultice, lotion’, from fovere ‘to heat, cherish’.