Definition of ferment in English:


Syllabification: fer·ment


Pronunciation: /fərˈment
1 [no object] (Of a substance) undergo fermentation: the drink had fermented, turning some of the juice into alcohol
More example sentences
  • Without lactase, milk and other lactose-rich foods ferment in the intestine, releasing excessive gas.
  • Next, the juice is placed in stainless steel tanks or oak barrels where the wine will ferment following the addition of yeast.
  • When milk ferments, naturally or aided by chemicals in the dairy, the milk changes into a solid fraction and a watery fraction (whey).
undergo fermentation, brew; effervesce, fizz, foam, froth
1.1 [with object] Cause the fermentation of (a substance).
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • The starch stored in natural plant sugars is harvested and then the sugar is fermented into lactic acid.
  • 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.
2 [with object] Incite or stir up (trouble or disorder): the politicians and warlords who are fermenting this chaos
More example sentences
  • I would not want anything to be said in relation to that that would ferment any problems.
  • 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.
  • ‘The principal and his henchmen blamed us for fermenting trouble and putting dangerous ideas in the heads of young people,’ he says.
2.1 [no object] (Of a negative feeling or memory) fester and develop into something worse: it had been fermenting in my subconscious for a while
More example sentences
  • She recognises that if she doesn't get out now, those emotions could ferment into something darker.
  • Separation is painful, and anger and resentment often ferment during the legal proceedings.
  • I dare say that, during some of the time I've spent staring into space this week, these ideas have in fact been developing and fermenting in my mind like hops in a big yeasty vat.


Pronunciation: /ˈfərˌmənt
Back to top  
1Agitation and excitement among a group of people, typically concerning major change and leading to trouble or violence: Germany at this time was in a state of religious ferment
More example sentences
  • That suggests greater ferment - and more excitement - in Singapore's arts scene.
  • 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.
  • There is still the sense of scientific, political and religious ferment, although Pears is a much more literary writer.
fever, furor, frenzy, tumult, storm, rumpus; turmoil, upheaval, unrest, disquiet, uproar, agitation, turbulence, disruption, confusion, disorder, chaos, mayhem
informal hoo-ha, to-do
2 archaic A fermenting agent or enzyme.
More example sentences
  • They have a slightly gamy flavour, due to the enzymes or ferments from the gut.
  • In my opinion, the albuminous materials were never the ferments, but the nutrients of the ferment.
  • The recent literature on ferments seemed to indicate that enzymes were a more likely candidate.


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



More example sentences
  • In France, for example, winemakers for centuries have used a process known as chaptalization, which is the addition of fermentable materials - including cane sugar!
  • Corn is the most readily apparent upon tasting - it is used by brewers to add fermentable sugar cheaply, since corn is significantly less expensive and requires less processing than barley.
  • But vodka can be made from anything that has fermentable sugars - and grapes are among the popular alternatives.

Definition of ferment in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day anomalous
Pronunciation: əˈnɒm(ə)ləs
deviating from what is standard, normal, or expected