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

Other Words from formalism

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

Examples of formalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For us, that formalism gave another force of reality. Emiliano Granada, Variety, 21 Feb. 2022 The cinematography is a little more anonymous than the cool, blanched formalism that Dupieux usually delivers, but the editing picks up the slack. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 11 Feb. 2022 It is almost assumed that the static camera does not allow that sensitivity, as if falling into a formalism. Emiliano Granada, Variety, 21 Feb. 2022 That formalism and abstraction corrupts the rest of us. Samuel Goldman, The Week, 3 Dec. 2021 Albers brought principles of the Bauhaus—the influential German art school that emphasized formalism, repetition, and handiwork—into her creative process. Grace Edquist, Vogue, 10 Nov. 2021 But in his work, and apparently in his life as well, Johns lived out a hard, self-denying ethos that is common among artists who stress formalism over all else: that the artist must disappear into the work. Washington Post, 29 Sep. 2021 Its ironic tone sets aside formalism and complex narratives to allow for the naturalness and simplicity of the characters and its plots to shine. Anna Marie De La Fuente, Variety, 20 Sep. 2021 These touches energize European-style formalism with sparks of American Pop. Washington Post, 6 Aug. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of formalism

1839, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of formalism was in 1839

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Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Formalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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


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