\ ˈfȯrm How to pronounce form (audio) \
plural forms

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
(2) : racing form
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


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 -form (audio) \ noun
formable \ ˈfȯr-​mə-​bəl How to pronounce -form (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 Your directive can come in the form of pictures, feelings, general concepts, and words. The Rev. Ellin Dize,, "Dize: Take heed, listen to God and let Him into your life | RELIGION COMMENTARY," 7 May 2021 This new projectile from BMW starts at $131,995 and is loaded with a few extra grains of firing powder in the form of the 617 hp, 4.4-liter V-8 engine. Ronald Ahrens, Robb Report, "Watching Milo Ventimiglia’s BMW Track Day Inspired Us to Give It a Try," 7 May 2021 DeSantis painted images of corn with vibrant colors of pink, green and blue, in the form of magical realism, a style popular in Latin America that weaves fantasy into everyday life. Stephanie García,, "Paintings, jewelry, salsa dancing and more: Mother’s Day market this Saturday showcases Latino artists," 7 May 2021 Cleveland Play House’s New Ground Theatre Festival is returning in the form of a two-part virtual event on May 15. cleveland, "Cleveland Play House’s virtual New Ground Theatre Festival offers first look at five new Cleveland-inspired plays," 6 May 2021 Over the course of five years starting in 2010, Egyptian-American artist Wael Shawky created an epic film trilogy on the Crusades, as seen from the medieval Muslim point of view, represented on screen in the form of a puppet show. Benjamin Lima, Dallas News, "History, told by puppets: Wael Shawky’s rich tale of the Crusades comes to the Modern," 6 May 2021 Time spent in virtual meetings has increased, and working hours have gotten longer at a cost to our well-being, manifesting in the form of burnout. Curtis Odom, Forbes, "How Employee Emotional Well-Being Impacts Job Satisfaction," 6 May 2021 Fifteen stubborn pounds have taken up indefinite residence on my body, converging in the form of a jello-like floaty around my abdominal area that appears to have no plans of departing. Marina Khorosh, Vogue, "Embracing Your Body After Baby: How to Dress When You’re Postpartum," 6 May 2021 Spinall gave the track a new jolt of energy in the form of a remix featuring 6lack on Thursday. Elias Leight, Rolling Stone, "6lack Joins Spinall, Fireboy DML on Gleaming ‘Sere’ Remix," 6 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The selfies form a poignant primary material for the artist’s collages on view at Tyler Park. Los Angeles Times, "Essential Arts: How Paul Pescador uses cartoons to explore intimate and civic spaces," 8 May 2021 Your body should form a diagonal line, head to feet. Jen Murphy, WSJ, "A Full-Body Workout to Shake Up Your Exercise Routine at Home," 8 May 2021 The Western Hemisphere's first tropical system of 2021 could form by next week, as meteorologists are watching for a tropical development over the Pacific Ocean and south of Mexico. Julia Musto, Fox News, "First tropical system of 2021 in Western Hemisphere could form by next week," 7 May 2021 Shifting planes form a type of substrate into which recognizable elements are embedded within a broken yet structured surface. John Zotos, Dallas News, "DMA exhibition reveals why Juan Gris is more important than you thought," 7 May 2021 Laing’s personal experiences form a backdrop for the book, allowing other voices to be at the forefront. Washington Post, "Olivia Laing’s ‘Everybody’ explores the power and vulnerabilities of the human body," 7 May 2021 Hourly earnings did form a bright spot, rising by 21 cents compared to a 4 cent decline the last time around. Jj Kinahan, Forbes, "Stock Index Futures Have Mixed Reaction To Disappointing Jobs Report; 10-Year Yield Slides," 7 May 2021 The rationale would then form the basis for any appeal. Time, "A Jury in Rome Has Convicted Two Young Americans of Slaying a Police Officer," 6 May 2021 The rationale would then form the basis for any appeal. Frances D'emilio, USA TODAY, "Rome jury convicts 2 American men to life in prison in slaying of police officer," 6 May 2021

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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Learn More about form

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

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Form.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for form



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

Comments on form

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