Fermentation is the process in which a substance breaks down into a simpler substance. Microorganisms like yeast and bacteria usually play a role in the fermentation process, creating beer, wine, bread, kimchi, yogurt and other foods.

Fermentation comes from the Latin word fermentare, meaning “to leaven.” To make bread rise, you use a leavening agent to “wake up” dry yeast by mixing it with water. The yeast then starts “eating” the sugar in the dough and off-gassing alcohol: that’s fermentation. Grape juice becomes wine as the fermentation process is complete.

Definitions of fermentation
  1. noun
    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: ferment, fermenting, zymolysis, zymosis
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    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
    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
  2. noun
    a state of agitation or turbulent change or development
    synonyms: agitation, ferment, tempestuousness, unrest
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    type of:
    Sturm und Drang, turbulence, upheaval
    a state of violent disturbance and disorder (as in politics or social conditions generally)
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