for·​mal·​i·​ty | \ fȯr-ˈma-lə-tē How to pronounce formality (audio) \
plural formalities

Definition of formality

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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Did You Know?

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.

Examples of formality in a Sentence

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

When Ruiz was invited to Mexico City by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, formality got a standing-eight count. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Big spotlight means ‘everything changed’ for Imperial boxing champ Andy Ruiz Jr.," 23 June 2019 Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester and Senate President Roger Roth of Appleton signed the bills at the rally, a formality that sent the legislation to Evers. Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Gov. Tony Evers vetoes 'born alive' legislation and other abortion measures," 21 June 2019 Registering displeasure That final formulation is yet another court formality. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "The art of throwing shade in a SCOTUS dissent," 20 June 2019 Heading into the season, a fourth straight NBA Finals meeting between the Cavaliers and Warriors seemed like formality. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "LeBron James had a spot-on answer to critics of a 4th straight Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals," 30 May 2018 For those who want a break from the formality of the traditional French dining experience, this market offers a relaxed and convivial atmosphere (and a great place to stock up on snacks for your hotel room or Airbnb). Condé Nast Traveler, "20 Best Food Tours in Paris," 3 Mar. 2018 As with most clothing, the formality of the garment really depends on the fabric and the cut, more so than the color. Julie Sabatino, Glamour, "18 Black Dresses (Yes, Black!) You Can Wear as a Wedding Guest," 16 May 2019 Pending publication of the no-confidence vote in the national bulletin and the formality of the king’s invitation to form a government, Sánchez could be sworn in over the weekend. Washington Post, "Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy ousted amid corruption scandal," 2 June 2018 There’s a tremendous care for form and formality in these paintings. Sharmila Mukherjee, The Seattle Times, "SAM’s ‘Peacock in the Desert’ opens the doors of our perception to the marvelous," 2 Jan. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of formality

1597, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for formality

Last Updated

4 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for formality

The first known use of formality was in 1597

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More Definitions for formality



English Language Learners Definition of formality

: a formal quality
: something that is required or usual but that has little true meaning or importance
: a formal part, activity, etc.


for·​mal·​i·​ty | \ fȯr-ˈma-lə-tē How to pronounce formality (audio) \
plural formalities

Kids Definition of formality

1 : the quality or state of being formal the formality of the occasion
2 : an established way of doing something wedding formalities

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