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leaven (verb) cause something (like bread)rise; make something more interesting.

Yeast causes bread to rise and puff up; that is, yeast leavens bread. When you leaven a speech or an event you make it more interesting and cheerful. Your jokes and anecdotes leaven your speech; that is, they make your speech more interesting and cheerful. To leaven, in other words, is to enliven.

  • No bakery product is tasty unless it is leavened by yeast. Yeast makes them feel soft and puff up. This adds to its taste.
  • The professor leavened a dry lecture on psychology by his frequent jokes about the abnormal behavior of psychic patients.
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Last Modified : 11-May 2009
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