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

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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 Several experts agreed that real numbers don’t seem to be physically real, and that physicists need a new formalism that doesn’t rely on them. Quanta Magazine, "Does Time Really Flow? New Clues Come From a Century-Old Approach to Math.," 7 Apr. 2020 The Supreme Court of the United States performs its duties with a theatrical formalism. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, "Is the Supreme Court’s Fate in Elena Kagan’s Hands?," 11 Nov. 2019 There’s no assumption about how that happens: how the quantum formalism must be used to predict the probabilities of the outcomes. Quanta Magazine, "Mysterious Quantum Rule Reconstructed From Scratch," 13 Feb. 2019 Despite all its formalism, math is not meant to have sacred texts that only the priests can read. Quanta Magazine, "With Category Theory, Mathematics Escapes From Equality," 10 Oct. 2019 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

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.

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First Known Use of formalism

1839, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for formalism

Time Traveler

The first known use of formalism was in 1839

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Statistics for formalism

Last Updated

21 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Formalism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/formalism. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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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

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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

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