\ ˈfȯrm How to pronounce form (audio) \

Definition of form

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a : 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
3a : 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
5a(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
6a : the resting place or nest of a hare
b : a long seat : bench
7a : 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
9a : 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
10a(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
12a(1) : the past performance of a race horse
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


formed; forming; forms

Definition of form (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

1a : 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.
6a : 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
form on
: to take up a formation next to
variants: or formo-

Definition of form- (Entry 3 of 4)

: formic acid formate

Definition of -form (Entry 4 of 4)

: in the form or shape of : resembling filiform

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Other Words from form


formability \ ˌfȯr-​mə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce formability (audio) \ noun
formable \ ˈfȯr-​mə-​bəl How to pronounce formable (audio) \ adjective

Examples of form in a Sentence

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Today, although unexpected death has returned in the form of covid-19, Peru is a vastly better place. The Economist, "Bello Looking back on Peru's Shining Path," 16 May 2020 Within days, the state created one in the form of an early warning system, a live daily map of conditions at each hospital, regardless of who operated it. New York Times, "How the Chaos at Elmhurst Hospital Exposed Health Care’s Fiefdoms," 14 May 2020 The Department of Health and Human Services issued a lengthy statement attempting to rebut Bright's testimony in the form of a fact check. Grace Segers, CBS News, "Ousted virus expert Rick Bright warns of "darkest winter in modern history"," 14 May 2020 The Black Magic were hot enough to require considerable flame-quenching in the form of cold beer. Paul Stephen,, "New super-spicy kettle chips Krakatoa Hot Chips hurt so good," 13 May 2020 Highly paid executives at banks typically received as little as 30% of their earnings in the form of long-term compensation before the financial crisis -- a portion that’s grown to 50% to 60% today, according to Johnson Associates. Hannah Levitt,, "Frozen Wells Fargo Bonuses Show a Peril for Bankers After Crisis," 13 May 2020 Refunds are available, though campers can also choose to have that in the form of a voucher for future camps. Katherine Fitzgerald, azcentral, "Arizona sleep-away camps: Are they opening in the summer of coronavirus? Here's what we know," 13 May 2020 The senators estimate airlines are sitting on about $10 billion of travelers' money in the form of future travel credits issued during the pandemic. Dawn Gilbertson, USA TODAY, "'We must give this money back': Lawmakers seek to make airlines offer refunds to all amid pandemic," 13 May 2020 The Red Raiders added depth to their defensive back corps in the form of Colgate graduate transfer Kyan Brumfield. Brice Paterik, Dallas News, "Texas Tech lands graduate transfer Kyan Brumfield from Colgate," 13 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb There are gluts of all shapes and kinds forming in the U.S. nowadays, a testament to the scope of the economic pain the coronavirus is inflicting. Time, "Thousands of SUVs Parked at Sea off California Because Demand for New Cars Has Plummeted," 1 May 2020 But forming a friendship with the grumpy cowboy next door lets her empathetic side come out and a fledgling interest in bull riding offers her a way to stabilize her life. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "What to stream this weekend: Netflix love story 'The Half of It,' Rob Morgan's 'Bull' are worth the ride," 30 Apr. 2020 Before dawn on Tuesday, long lines formed outside McDonald's and KFC. Anna Fifield, Anchorage Daily News, "New Zealanders emerge from coronavirus lockdown - craving fast food and the beach," 29 Apr. 2020 Some bear holes in their walls caused by bulldozers that tried to knock them down in 2017, until activists formed a human chain to stop them and successfully obtained an injunction that has kept the wrecking ball away since. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, "El Paso officials want to bulldoze a historic barrio. This 92-year-old woman is in the way," 29 Apr. 2020 The news on Tuesday that Representative Justin Amash, the independent congressman from Michigan, had formed a committee to explore running for president as a Libertarian was, if nothing else, impeccably timed. Jason Linkins, The New Republic, "The Democrats’ Very Revealing Angst About Justin Amash," 29 Apr. 2020 Overall, restaurants generate $880 billion per year in revenue and account for 4% of the nation’s GDP, according to the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC), a grass-roots movement among chefs and restaurant managers that formed in March. Rachel King, Fortune, "Restaurants are converting their spaces into retail stores to ride out the coronavirus pandemic," 29 Apr. 2020 Top that, in order, with the poblano strips, chorizo and cheese, forming a rectangle of filling in the center of each tortilla, leaving about 1 ½ inches on the top and bottom and about 3 inches on the sides. Paul Stephen,, "Recipe: Loaded Queso Flameado Quesadilla," 29 Apr. 2020 When restaurants shut down en masse last month as coronavirus spread across the U.S., farmers and suppliers were left with a glut of food grown for diners even as grocery store shelves emptied and lines formed outside food banks. Julie Wernau, WSJ, "Cheese Off a Truck: Farmers Try to Salvage Food, and Some Sales," 28 Apr. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of form


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


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

History and Etymology for form

Noun and Verb

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

Combining form


Adjective combining form

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

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Time Traveler for form

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for form

Last Updated

17 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Form.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for form


How to pronounce -form (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of form

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a type or kind of something
: one of several or many different ways in which something is seen, experienced, or produced
: the shape of something



English Language Learners Definition of form (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause (something) to have a particular shape or form
: to get, create, or develop (something) over a period of time
: to begin to exist or to be seen


\ ˈfȯrm How to pronounce form (audio) \

Kids Definition of form

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : sort entry 1 sense 1, kind Coal is one form of carbon.
2 : the shape and structure of something We saw the bear's huge form.
3 : a printed sheet with blank spaces for information Fill out the form.
4 : a way of doing something There are different forms of worship.
5 : one of the different pronunciations, spellings, or inflections a word may have The plural form of “lady” is “ladies.”
6 : a mold in which concrete is placed to set


formed; forming

Kids Definition of form (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to give form or shape to Practice forming the letter R.
2 : develop sense 5 He formed good study habits.
3 : to come or bring together in making The students formed a line.
4 : to take shape : come into being Fog forms in the valleys. Ideas were forming in her mind.


\ ˈfȯ(ə)rm How to pronounce form (audio) \

Medical Definition of form

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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

Medical Definition of form (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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

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Legal Definition of form

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on form

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for form

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with form

Spanish Central: Translation of form

Nglish: Translation of form for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of form for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about form

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