Wednesday Word for July 1, 2020

Today’s word comes from the news.

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Today’s Word

Part of Speech

verb

Definition

  1. To promote the growth or development of.
  2. To instigate or foster, such as discord, or rebellion.
  3. To apply warm water or medicated liquid, ointments, an so on, to the surface of the body.

History

This word was first used around 1613 as meaning to promote the growth of. But, if you had sore muscles in the 1600s, your doctor might have advised you to foment the injury, perhaps with heated lotions or warm wax. Does this sound like an odd prescription? Not if you know that foment traces to the Latin verb fovēre, which means “to heat.” The earliest documented English uses of foment appear in medical texts offering advice on how to soothe various aches and pains by the application of moist heat. But the idea of applying heat can also be a metaphor for stimulating or rousing to action. Within 50 years of its English debut, foment was also being used in political contexts to mean “to stir up,” “to call to action,” or, in a sense at least figuratively opposite to its original one, “to irritate.”

~foment

Synonyms

abet, incite, provoke

Usage and Examples

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Jack Duncan used his years in office to foment unrest within the country.
  • The agitators were at the protest to foment violence.

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