formalism

noun
for·​mal·​ism | \ ˈfȯr-mə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce formalism (audio) \

Definition of formalism

1 : the practice or the doctrine of strict adherence to prescribed or external forms (as in religion or art) also : an instance of this
2 : marked attention to arrangement, style, or artistic means (as in art or literature) usually with corresponding de-emphasis of content

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from formalism

formalist \ ˈfȯr-​mə-​list How to pronounce formalist (audio) \ noun or adjective
formalistic \ ˌfȯr-​mə-​ˈli-​stik How to pronounce formalistic (audio) \ adjective

Examples of formalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web His distinctive approach to the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection was perhaps the best example of his disdain for doctrinal formalism. Linda Greenhouse, New York Times, "Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, Who Led Liberal Wing, Dies at 99," 16 July 2019 All the same, Gleason’s approach assumes some key aspects of the mathematical formalism needed to connect quantum states to specific measurement outcomes. Quanta Magazine, "Mysterious Quantum Rule Reconstructed From Scratch," 13 Feb. 2019 D’Souza, Matheny and their colleagues applied the same potent formalism in their recent studies with NEMs. Natalie Wolchover, WIRED, "The Math of How Crickets, Starlings, and Neurons Sync Up," 7 Apr. 2019 The papers, which ran to more than 500 pages, were written in a novel formalism and contained many new terms and definitions. Quanta Magazine, "Hope Rekindled for Perplexing Proof," 21 Dec. 2015 In a world where genre and formalism were increasingly the reigning critical deities, Bergman's zeal for rich emotion, for dramatizing philosophical concerns and engaging with profound human questions seemed outdated at best. Kenneth Turan, latimes.com, "Reconnecting with one-time cinema god Ingmar Bergman, subject of a major L.A. retrospective," 2 May 2018 The formalism of Thom Browne’s suiting might not seem analogous to the freedom and fury of the sports world, but Browne’s great strength as a designer is the ability to seamlessly shift between strict and spirited. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Thom Browne’s New Golf Capsule Collection Is a Stroke Above the Rest," 30 Oct. 2018 From one point of view, quantum physics is just a set of formalisms, a useful tool kit. James Gleick, New York Times, "What Does Quantum Physics Actually Tell Us About the World?," 8 May 2018 Aharonov’s approach is called the two-state-vector formalism (TSVF) of quantum mechanics, and postulates quantum events are in some sense determined by quantum states not just in the past—but also in the future. Philip Ball, Scientific American, "Quantum Physics May Be Even Spookier Than You Think," 21 May 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of formalism

1839, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about formalism

Statistics for formalism

Last Updated

9 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for formalism

The first known use of formalism was in 1839

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for formalism

formalism

noun
How to pronounce formalism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of formalism

: a method, style, way of thinking, etc., that shows very careful attention to traditional forms and rules

More from Merriam-Webster on formalism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with formalism

Britannica English: Translation of formalism for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about formalism

Comments on formalism

What made you want to look up formalism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

concealed or difficult to comprehend

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • rotelle pasta
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!