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

Essential Meaning of form

1 : a type or kind of something Coal is a form of carbon. a rare/deadly form of cancer See More Examplesa popular form of entertainment different forms of life = different life forms [=different types of living beings] an ancient form of music an art formHide
2 : one of several or many different ways in which something is seen, experienced, or produced The medicine can be taken in the form of a liquid or pill. = The medicine can be taken in pill or liquid form. His essays are now available in book form. [=his essays have been published in a book] See More Examplesthe written/spoken form of the language Antisocial behavior can take many forms. [=there are many different types of antisocial behavior] Most of his wealth is in the form of stocks. [=most of his wealth consists of stocks]Hide
3 : the shape of something the building's massive form a style of architecture that emphasizes form over function

Full 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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Prominent alumni, while still grumbling about that loss to Cincinnati, see a move to USC as a form of betrayal. Bill Dwyre, Los Angeles Times, 22 Oct. 2021 In a recent op-ed, the economist Lawrence Lindsey accused the Biden administration of supporting some taxes purely as a form of punishment. Joseph Thorndike, Forbes, 20 Oct. 2021 Under former President Donald Trump, the Department of Justice retreated from civil rights investigations, seeing them as a form of federal overreach. Ken Armstrong, ProPublica, 20 Oct. 2021 Rainey sang openly about lesbian relationship and cross-dressing in the early 20th century when homosexuality was seen as a form of mental illness. John Blake, CNN, 20 Oct. 2021 The notion of the autobiographical novel as a form is as old as the novel itself. Leslie Camhi, Vogue, 19 Oct. 2021 In the absence of talks with the U.S. or South Korea, North Korea is focusing on maintaining military strength as a form of deterrence and survival, said Moon Jang-ryul, a member of South Korea’s presidential commission for policy planning. Timothy W. Martin, WSJ, 19 Oct. 2021 Others in McKee’s camp have blamed a top rival in the governor’s race, Treasurer Seth Magaziner, for pushing the story as a form of opposition research against the governor., 15 Oct. 2021 Most are taken to unpopulated areas, but some snakes are released onto ranches as a form of pest control at the landowner's request. Kelli Bender,, 14 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb At home, Hungary's six largest opposition parties have vowed to put aside ideological differences and form a coalition to challenge Orban's party in upcoming elections. Justin Spike, ajc, 23 Oct. 2021 However, since Mostert was injured, Shanahan has shown no desire to see if his rookies can form his latest backfield tandem. Eric Branch, San Francisco Chronicle, 21 Oct. 2021 The extreme weather events happen when tornadoes form over water or move from land to water, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Joelle Goldstein,, 20 Oct. 2021 People have emotional attachments to animals, and the bonds participants form with horses go a long way toward New Beginnings’ therapeutic goals, Hensley said. Bill Jones,, 18 Oct. 2021 In historically Black genres, like hip-hop and rap, Black Caribbean women lead the way (think Rihanna and Cardi B) and form everything from business decisions to video presence. Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo,, 18 Oct. 2021 The EU Commission is giving away free travel rail passes to 60,000 European citizens form ages 18 to 20. Maureen O'hare, CNN, 16 Oct. 2021 Huge cedar logs wedged in the upper walls of the canyon also attest to these strong, swift waters that helped form it, eroding passageways and smoothing the rock into eye-pleasing curves. Washington Post, 15 Oct. 2021 Mizejewski explained that leaves and other organic matter sent to landfills can break down and form methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Marina Pitofsky, USA TODAY, 15 Oct. 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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Time Traveler for form

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near form

for luck



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Last Updated

25 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Form.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for form


\ 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


transitive verb

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



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

More from Merriam-Webster on form

Nglish: Translation of form for Spanish Speakers

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


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