[Ads-l] foment

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Dec 1 16:12:24 UTC 2014

Well, OED foment, v. 4a is

'To promote the growth, development, effect, or spread of (something material or physical)'

and 4b is 

'To cherish, cultivate, foster; to stimulate, encourage, instigate (a sentiment, belief, pursuit, course of conduct, etc.). esp. in a bad sense'

neither of which is marked as obsolete/archaic.  So the standard current ('esp. in a bad sense') use is a narrowing/pejoration, and Yahoo! News is just keeping the earlier broader practice of Milton, Pope, Swift, et al. alive.


P.S.  Then there's the now archaic reflexive use, as in...
1680 T. Otway. Orphan.  To think Of woman were enough to taint my Brains, Till they foment to madness!

On Dec 1, 2014, at 10:29 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:

> Surely not "cement"?
> JL
> On Mon, Dec 1, 2014 at 10:24 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
>> Subject:      Re: foment
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> At 11/30/2014 08:01 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>> Like, you know, 'encourage in a good way'?
>>> Yahoo! News:
>>> "Cuba, UK seek to foment ties with visit of British Royal Navy ship."
>> Perhaps an error for "ferment"?  A plan to bring back grog to the
>> Royal Navy, and in a gesture of comradeship introduce it to the Cuban
>> seamen?
>> Joel
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> -- 
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list