form

1 of 4

noun

plural forms
1
a
: the shape and structure of something as distinguished from its material
the building's massive form
b
: a body (as of a person) especially in its external appearance or as distinguished from the face : figure
the female form
c
archaic : beauty
2
: the essential nature of a thing as distinguished from its matter: such as
b
: the component of a thing that determines its kind
3
a
: established method of expression or proceeding : procedure according to rule or rote
also : a standard or expectation based on past experience : precedent
true to form, the champions won again
b
: a prescribed and set order of words : formula
the form of the marriage service
4
: a printed or typed document with blank spaces for insertion of required or requested information
tax forms
5
a(1)
: conduct regulated by extraneous (see extraneous sense 1) controls (as of custom or etiquette) : ceremony
(2)
: show without substance
b
: manner or conduct as tested by a prescribed or accepted standard
rudeness is simply bad form
c
: manner or style of performing or accomplishing according to recognized standards of technique
a strong swimmer but weak on form
6
a
: the resting place or nest of a hare
b
: a long seat : bench
7
a
: a supporting frame model of the human figure or part (such as the torso) of the human figure usually used for displaying apparel
b
: a proportioned and often adjustable model for fitting clothes
c
: a mold in which concrete is placed to set
8
: the printing type or other matter arranged and secured in a chase ready for printing
9
a
: one of the different modes of existence, action, or manifestation of a particular thing or substance : kind
one form of respiratory disorder
a form of art
b
: a distinguishable group of organisms
d
: one of the different aspects a word may take as a result of inflection or change of spelling or pronunciation
verbal forms
e
: a mathematical expression of a particular type
a bilinear form
a polynomial form
10
a(1)
: orderly method of arrangement (as in the presentation of ideas) : manner of coordinating elements (as of an artistic production or course of reasoning)
(2)
: a particular kind or instance of such arrangement
the sonnet is a poetical form
b
: pattern, schema
arguments of the same logical form
c
: the structural element, plan, or design of a work of art compare content sense 2c
d
: a visible and measurable unit defined by a contour : a bounded surface or volume
11
: a grade in a British school or in some American private schools
12
a(1)
: the past performance of a race horse
(2)
b
: known ability to perform
a singer at the top of her form
c
: condition suitable for performing (as in athletic competition)
back on form

see also take form

form

2 of 4

verb

formed; forming; forms

transitive verb

1
a
: to give a particular shape to : shape or mold into a certain state or after a particular model
form the dough into a ball
a state formed along republican lines
b
: to arrange themselves in
the dancers formed a line
c
: to model by instruction and discipline
a mind formed by classical education
2
: to give form or shape to : fashion, construct
She formed the dough into balls.
3
: to serve to make up or constitute : be an essential or basic element of
Bonds formed the bulk of his estate.
4
: develop, acquire
form a habit
5
: to arrange in order : draw up
The battalion was formed into squares for all-around defense.
6
a
: to assume an inflection so as to produce (a form, such as a tense)
forms the past in -ed
b
: to combine to make (a compound word)
"motor" and "cycle" form "motorcycle"

intransitive verb

1
: to become formed or shaped
A clot was forming over the cut.
2
: to take form : come into existence : arise
Storm clouds were forming over the hills.
3
: to take on a definite form, shape, or arrangement
the platoon formed in columns
formability noun
formable adjective

form-

3 of 4

combining form

variants or formo-
: formic acid
formate
: in the form or shape of : resembling
filiform
Phrases
form on
: to take up a formation next to

Example Sentences

Noun Coal is a form of carbon. a rare form of cancer a popular form of entertainment an ancient form of music the written form of the language a style of architecture that emphasizes form over function The shadowy forms of several people were visible through the smoke. Verb The friendship that they formed in school lasted a lifetime. Her early experiences played an important role in forming her personality. His ideas were not yet fully formed. The drug can help prevent blood clots from forming. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead. A plan was gradually forming in my mind. A plan was gradually forming itself in my mind. An angry crowd was forming in the streets. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Attempts by Democrats to impose limits in other states have mostly failed, and some form of open carry without a permit is now legal in 38 states, a number that is likely to expand as legislation advances in several more. Mike Mcintire, BostonGlobe.com, 26 Nov. 2022 Attempts by Democrats to impose limits in other states have mostly failed, and some form of open carry without a permit is now legal in 38 states, a number that is likely to expand as legislation advances in several more. Mike Mcintire, New York Times, 26 Nov. 2022 These pants are where form meets function: the lightweight cotton is cut in a slim fit, but durable enough to stand up to all kinds of adventurous abuse. The Editors, Outside Online, 25 Nov. 2022 The form will open on Thanksgiving day and remain open throughout the holiday season. Questions? Bebe Hodges, The Enquirer, 24 Nov. 2022 However, this form of discrimination remains prevalent in almost every aspect of American life. Alan Patricof, Fortune, 22 Nov. 2022 As food prices soar across the nation, an increasingly common form of theft is targeting some of Howard County’s most vulnerable families. Ethan Ehrenhaft, Baltimore Sun, 21 Nov. 2022 Eva Encinias, a flamenco preservationist, says the form was an essential component of Gypsy heritage. al, 21 Nov. 2022 The form had multiple-choice questions that asked whether the family had proper housing and access to food. Kartikay Mehrotra, ProPublica, 19 Nov. 2022
Verb
Slit film, meanwhile, has sliced strands that form a honeycomb shape. Mark Long, Chron, 17 Nov. 2022 Instead, the focus is on staying alive, and your first priority is to create a shelter that will eventually form the literal heart of your vampire castle. Jeremy Signor, Washington Post, 16 Nov. 2022 That ugly brawl was the lowlight of the Big Ten season, which otherwise has played out close to form. Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune, 16 Nov. 2022 These boxer briefs are designed to be worn under slim tailoring, eliminating the visible underwear lines that can form when wearing tight trousers. Todd Plummer, Robb Report, 16 Nov. 2022 The air rises, and clouds form and grow into narrow bands that produce 2 to 3 inches of snow an hour or even more. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, 16 Nov. 2022 It was launched as a pathfinder for the Moon-orbiting outpost called Gateway, which will eventually form part of the Artemis program. Matthew Humphries, PCMAG, 15 Nov. 2022 And even perhaps how star formation plays a part in the types of planets that form around them. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 15 Nov. 2022 These acids are molecules that form proteins within the body. Paul Kita, Men's Health, 15 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'form.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Verb

Middle English forme, from Anglo-French furme, forme, from Latin forma form, beauty

Combining form

formic

Adjective combining form

French & Latin; French -forme, from Latin -formis, from forma

First Known Use

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of form was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near form

Cite this Entry

“Form.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/form. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

form 1 of 2

noun

1
a
: the shape and structure of something as distinguished from its material
b
: a body (as of a person) especially in its outward appearance or as distinguished from the face
2
a
: an established manner of doing or saying something
a form of worship
b
: a standard or expectation based on past experience
true to form, the champions won again
3
: a document with blank spaces for inserting information
a tax form
4
a
: conduct determined by custom : ceremony, convention
also : display without meaning
the usual forms upon being introduced
b
: manner of behaving according to recognized standards
it's bad form not to wait for your turn
5
: a long seat : bench
6
a
: a model of the human figure used for displaying clothes
b
: a mold in which concrete is placed to set
7
: one of the different varieties of a particular thing or substance
coal is a form of carbon
8
: any of the different pronunciations or spellings a word may take in inflection or compounding
9
: a special way of stating a mathematical expression
the number 2.5 can be written in fractional form as frac::5/2
10
a
: orderly method of arrangement
also : a kind or instance of such arrangement
painting is an art form
b
: the structural element, plan, or design of a work of art
11
: a surface or space enclosed by mathematical boundaries
12
: a grade in a British secondary school or in some American private schools
13
a
: ability as shown by past performance
b
: condition for performing
in top form

form

2 of 2

verb

1
: to give form or shape to : fashion, make
form the letter A
2
: instruct sense 1, train
education forms the mind
3
: make up sense 2, constitute
a hat formed of straw
4
: develop sense 5, acquire
form a habit
5
: to arrange in order
form a line
6
: to take form : arise
fog forms in the valleys
7
: to take a definite form, shape, or arrangement
the customers formed in lines
former noun

Medical Definition

form 1 of 2

noun

1
a
: the shape and structure of something as distinguished from its material
b
: a body (as of a person) especially in its external appearance or as distinguished from the face
2
: a distinguishable group of organisms
used especially to avoid taxonomic implications

form

2 of 2

transitive verb

: to give a particular shape to : shape or mold into a certain state or after a particular model

intransitive verb

: to become formed or shaped
a clot formed over the cut

Legal Definition

form

noun

1
: the structure of something (as a document) as distinguished from its matter
a defect in form, not substance
2
: established procedure according to rule or practice see also form of action
3
: a printed or typed document with blank spaces for insertion of required or requested information
tax forms

More from Merriam-Webster on form

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