formality

noun

for·​mal·​i·​ty fȯr-ˈma-lə-tē How to pronounce formality (audio)
plural formalities
1
: compliance with formal or conventional rules : ceremony
2
: the quality or state of being formal
3
: an established form or procedure that is required or conventional
the interview was just a formality

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Formal behavior follows the proper forms or customs, and informal behavior feels free to ignore them. The formality of a dinner party is indicated by such formalities as invitations, required dress, and full table settings. Legal formalities, or technicalities, may turn out to be all-important even if they often seem minor. America requires fewer formalities than many other countries (in Germany, for example, you may know someone for years before using his or her first name), but even in relaxed situations Americans may be observing invisible formalities.

Example Sentences

Her use of old-fashioned language lends an air of formality to her writing. He failed to appreciate the formality of the occasion. They haven't approved the loan yet, but that's just a mere formality.
Recent Examples on the Web But unlike Luján, who won his seat in 2020, and Van Hollen, whose re-election this fall is largely seen as a formality, Fetterman is a nominee in one of the most competitive Senate seats in the country. Philip Elliott, Time, 17 Oct. 2022 As a formality, the Reds issued a one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer, which Castellanos declined. Cincinnati Enquirer, The Enquirer, 1 Oct. 2022 Similarly, Nora’s cruelly abrupt exit from Moussa’s life is never accounted for, indeed our only subsequent glimpse of her — and Moussa’s — comes during an impersonal Skype call, as a formality for an off-the-shelf divorce. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 9 Sep. 2022 In the excitement of having signed a term sheet, investors may be tempted to consider technical due diligence (tech DD) as a formality to assuage their colleagues and limited partners. Bernard Fraenkel, Forbes, 22 June 2022 Both bills await votes from the Parliament and policymakers from the 27 countries in the union, which are widely viewed as a formality. Washington Post, 23 Apr. 2022 It is expected to take place in the coming weeks, and is regarded as a formality. Brian Stelter, CNN, 9 Feb. 2022 New Alaska governors typically change high-level political staff, requesting letters of resignation as a formality during the transition process, but Dunleavy’s requests went deeper than typical, Sedwick concluded. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, 9 Oct. 2021 The map will now go to the Supreme Court for approval, which is seen as largely a formality unless there's a legal challenge. Nicholas Riccardi, ajc, 29 Sep. 2021 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1597, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of formality was in 1597

Dictionary Entries Near formality

Cite this Entry

“Formality.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/formality. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

formality

noun

for·​mal·​i·​ty fȯr-ˈmal-ət-ē How to pronounce formality (audio)
plural formalities
1
: a going along with formal or customary rules : ceremony
2
: the quality or state of being formal
3
: an established form that is required or usual
the interview was just a formality

More from Merriam-Webster on formality

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