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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Ferment \Fer"ment\, n. [L. fermentum ferment (in senses 1 & 2), perh. for fervimentum, fr. fervere to be boiling hot, boil, ferment: cf. F. ferment. Cf. 1st Barm, Fervent.]

  1. That which causes fermentation, as yeast, barm, or fermenting beer. Note: Ferments are of two kinds:

    1. Formed or organized ferments.

    2. Unorganized or structureless ferments. The latter are now called enzymes and were formerly called soluble ferments or chemical ferments. Ferments of the first class are as a rule simple microscopic vegetable organisms, and the fermentations which they engender are due to their growth and development; as, the acetic ferment, the butyric ferment, etc. See Fermentation. Ferments of the second class, on the other hand, are chemical substances; as a rule they are proteins soluble in glycerin and precipitated by alcohol. In action they are catalytic and, mainly, hydrolytic. Good examples are pepsin of the dastric juice, ptyalin of the salvia, and disease of malt. Before 1960 the term "ferment" to mean "enzyme" fell out of use. Enzymes are now known to be globular proteins, capable of catalyzing a wide variety of chemical reactions, not merely hydrolytic. The full set of enzymes causing production of ethyl alcohol from sugar has been identified and individually purified and studied. See enzyme.

  2. Intestine motion; heat; tumult; agitation.

    Subdue and cool the ferment of desire.

    the nation is in a ferment.

  3. A gentle internal motion of the constituent parts of a fluid; fermentation. [R.]

    Down to the lowest lees the ferment ran.

    ferment oils, volatile oils produced by the fermentation of plants, and not originally contained in them. These were the quintessences of the alchemists.


n. (plural of enzyme English)

Usage examples of "enzymes".

In addition, a number of hormones turned out to be nonprotein in structure and, as far as we know, all enzymes are proteins.

All nerve cells contain the enzymes that form acetylcholine and break it down.

There were hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of enzymes, each existing solely to aid a single chemical reaction.

IF you are interested in the nature and the method of operation of enzymes, I refer you to my book Life and Energy (1962).

By gentle treatment with acids or with alkali or with certain enzymes, it is possible to break up the protein molecule into its subgroup amino acids instead of its separate atoms.

Ordinary enzymes will perform their hastening activity in the test tube as well as in the body and, in fact, enzymes are routinely studied through their ability to act under controlled test-tube conditions.

A subsidiary theory is that hormones, although not themselves enzymes, collaborate with enzymes — some enzyme, that is, which is designed to hasten a certain reaction and will not do so unless a particular hormone is present.

The hormone by its presence prevents one of the enzymes in the reaction chain from being active.

The enzyme was named kailikrein (kal-ik'ree-in) and it, or very similar enzymes, have been located in a number of other tissues.

Previous attempts had failed because the hormone is a protein and the enzymes within the ordinary cells of the pancreas, some of which are particularly designed for protein digestion, broke up the hormone even while efforts were being made to mash up the pancreas.

The hormone could now be isolated from the still-vigorous islets and no protein-destroying enzymes were present to break up the hormone.

The microscopic fat globules eventually formed are much easier to break up through the digestive action of enzymes than large masses of fat would be, because enzymes are not soluble in fat and can only exert their effects on the edges of the bubbles.

His own research with staphylococcus, for example, had shown that this organism produced two enzymes that altered blood.

It was almost impossible: on earth, proteins were part of the cell wall, and comprised all the enzymes known to man.

I've tried… and our other chemists have tried… to break down those jelly beans you left behind with your enzymes in them, but there are some ingredients we just can't identify.