ferment

The word ferment means a commotion or excitement. Consider that the fermentation that turns juice or grain into alcohol is the result of the agitated development of bacteria, and then you can better appreciate the word's meaning.

While you might be more familiar with the verb ferment, referring to the natural process that produces alcohol, the word is also used as a noun, giving the same type of boiling emotion to people or events. If you keep in mind that the root of the word is fevere, meaning "to boil or seethe," you get a vivid picture of the ferment experienced at a political rally where tempers run high.

Primary Meanings of ferment

1.
vn
cause to undergo fermentation
a process in which an agent causes an organic substance to break down into simpler substances; especially, the anaerobic breakdown of sugar into alcohol
2.
nv
a state of agitation or turbulent change or development
be in an agitated or excited state
Full Definitions of ferment
1

v cause to undergo fermentation

“We ferment the grapes for a very long time to achieve high alcohol content”
Synonyms:
work
sour, turn, work
go sour or spoil
Types:
vinify
convert a juice into wine by fermentation
Type of:
convert
change the nature, purpose, or function of something

v go sour or spoil

Synonyms:
sour, turn, work
work
cause to undergo fermentation
Type of:
change state, turn
undergo a transformation or a change of position or action

n a process in which an agent causes an organic substance to break down into simpler substances; especially, the anaerobic breakdown of sugar into alcohol

Synonyms:
fermentation, fermenting, zymolysis, zymosis
Types:
bottom fermentation
a slow kind of alcoholic fermentation at a temperature low enough that the yeast cells can sink to the bottom of the fermenting liquid; used in the production of lager
top fermentation
a violent kind of alcoholic fermentation at a temperature high enough to carry the yeast cells to the top of the fermenting liquid; used in the production of ale
vinification
the process whereby fermentation changes grape juice into wine
Type of:
chemical action, chemical change, chemical process
(chemistry) any process determined by the atomic and molecular composition and structure of the substances involved

n a substance capable of bringing about fermentation

Type of:
substance
a particular kind or species of matter with uniform properties
2

n a state of agitation or turbulent change or development

“the political ferment produced new leadership”
Synonyms:
agitation, fermentation, tempestuousness, unrest
Type of:
Sturm und Drang, turbulence, upheaval
a state of violent disturbance and disorder (as in politics or social conditions generally)

v be in an agitated or excited state

“The Middle East is fermenting
“Her mind ferments
Type of:
boil, seethe
be in an agitated emotional state

v work up into agitation or excitement

“Islam is fermenting Africa”
Type of:
fire up, heat, ignite, inflame, stir up, wake
arouse or excite feelings and passions