• IPA: /ˈfætən/

fatten (fattens, present participle fattening; past and past participle fattened)

  1. (transitive) To cause (a person or animal) to be fat or fatter.
    We must fatten the turkey in time for Thanksgiving.
    • 1582, Stephen Batman (translator), Batman vppon Bartholomeus Anglicus his Booke De Proprietatibus Rerum, London: Thomas East, Book 6, Chapter 25, p. 82,
      And if the mat[t]er be too little, the vertue of digestion fayleth, and the bodye is dryed, and if the matter and meate be moderate, the meats is well digested, and the bodye fattened, the heart comforted, kinde heate made more, the humors made temperate, & wit made cleere:
    • 1969, Margaret Atwood, The Edible Woman, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2010, Part 1, Chapter 4,
      In that classroom full of oily potato-chip-fattened adolescents, she was everyone’s ideal of translucent perfume-advertisement femininity.
  2. (intransitive, of a person or animal) To become fat or fatter.
    Synonyms: gain weight, put on weight
    He gradually fattened in the five years after getting married.
    • 1774, Henry Home, Lord Kames, Sketches of the History of Man, Dublin: James Williams, Volume 1, Sketch 2, pp. 49-50,
      The Laplanders, possessing a country where corn will not grow, make bread of the inner bark of trees; and Carl Linnaeus reports, that swine there fatten on that food […]
    • 1916, James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Chapter 3,
      His soul was fattening and congealing into a gross grease, plunging ever deeper in its dull fear into a sombre threatening dusk […]
    • 1955, J. P. Donleavy, The Ginger Man, New York: Dell, 1965, Chapter 6, p. 43,
      Mushrooms fatten in the warm September rain.
  3. (transitive) To make thick or thicker (something containing paper, often money).
    • 1920, Sinclair Lewis, Main Street (novel), New York: Harcourt, Brace, Chapter 33, p. 401,
      “You horrible old man, you’ve always tried to turn Erik into a slave, to fatten your pocketbook! […] ”
    • 1995, Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance, London: Faber & Faber, 1997, Part 5, p. 241,
      The news spread, about the bastard caterer who was toying with their religious sentiments, trampling on their beliefs, polluting their beings, all for the sake of fattening his miserable wallet.
    • 2000, Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, New York: Random House, Part 3, Chapter 2, p. 177,
      It was the impotence of the money, and of all the pent-up warlike fancies that had earned it, to do anything but elaborate the wardrobe and fatten the financial portfolios of the owners of Empire Comics that so frustrated and enraged him.
  4. (intransitive) To become thick or thicker.
    • 1929, Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel, London: Heinemann, 1930, Part 2, Chapter 22,
      A broad river of white paper rushed constantly up from the cylinder and leaped into a mangling chaos of machinery whence it emerged a second later, cut, printed, folded and stacked, sliding along a board with a hundred others in a fattening sheaf.
  5. (transitive) To make (soil) fertile and fruitful.
    Synonyms: enrich
    to fatten land
    • 1612, Joseph Hall (bishop), Contemplations vpon the Principall Passages of the Holie Storie, London: Sa. Macham, Volume 1, Book 4, p. 333,
      As the riuer of Nilus was to Egypt in steed of heauen to moisten and fatten the earth; so their confidence was more in it then in heauen;
    • 1850, Christina Rossetti, “A Testimony” in Goblin Market and Other Poems, London: Macmillan, 1862, p. 163,
      The earth is fattened with our dead;
      She swallows more and doth not cease:
      Therefore her wine and oil increase
      And her sheaves are not numberèd;
  6. (intransitive) To become fertile and fruitful.
    • 1700, John Dryden (translator), “The First Book of Homer’s Iliad” in Fables Ancient and Modern, London: Jacob Tonson, p. 205,
      These hostile Fields shall fatten with thy Blood.
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