Webster 1828 Edition



[L. fermentatio.] The sensible internal motion of the constituent particles of animal and vegetable substances, occasioned by a certain degree of heat and moisture, and accompanied by an extrication of gas and heat. Fermentation is followed by a change of properties in the substances fermented, arising from new combinations of their principles. It may be defined, in its most general sense, any spontaneous change which takes place in animal or vegetable substances, after life has ceased. It is of three kinds, vinous, acetous, and putrefactive. The term is also applied to other processes, as the panary fermentation, or the raising of bread; but it is limited, by some authors, to the vinous and acetous fermentations, which terminate in the production of alcohol or vinegar. Fermentation differs from effervescence. The former is confined to animal and vegetable substances; the latter is applicable to mineral substances. The former is spontaneous; the latter produced by the mixture of bodies.

Definition 2024





fermentation (countable and uncountable, plural fermentations)

  1. (biochemistry) Any of many anaerobic biochemical reactions in which an enzyme (or several enzymes produced by a microorganism) catalyses the conversion of one substance into another; especially the conversion (using yeast) of sugars to alcohol or acetic acid with the evolution of carbon dioxide
  2. A state of agitation or excitement; a ferment.
    • Jeremy Taylor
      It puts the soul to fermentation and activity.
    • Charles Kingsley
      a universal fermentation of human thought and faith


Related terms

Derived terms



  • IPA(key): /fɛʁ.mɑ̃.ta.sjɔ̃/


Borrowing from Latin fermentātiō, fermentātiōnem.


fermentation f (plural fermentations)

  1. fermentation

Related terms


  • fermentation” in the Dictionnaire de l’Académie française, 8th Edition (1932–35).