formality

noun
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

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 For Doro, 25, and Lord, 24, both avid outdoorsmen, the sign was little more than a formality. The Atlantic, "Is Social Media Luring Hikers Into 'Death Gully'?," 17 May 2018 The architect describes following the ramp as processional, but that suggestion of formality and hierarchical symmetries is misleading. Julie V. Iovine., WSJ, "A Shrine to Honor Service," 24 Oct. 2018 Because Democrats hold the majority of seats on the committee, the vote will usually just be a formality if the chairman decides to subpoena a witness. Mary Clare Jalonick, The Seattle Times, "House panel to vote on subpoena for acting attorney general," 5 Feb. 2019 The bill, which was approved by the House of Commons on Monday, goes next to the governor-general, the representative of Queen Elizabeth, as a formality. Ian Austen, New York Times, "Vote in Canada Paves the Way for Legalization of Marijuana," 19 June 2018 En route to winning his first points-paying Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Busch led 377 of a possible 400 laps, never had to pass anyone for the lead, and only ran the last 70 laps of the race as a formality. Brendan Marks, charlotteobserver, "Kyle Busch celebrates 'dream come true' at 600, eclipses Earnhardt, Petty ... everyone | Charlotte Observer," 28 May 2018 Layla’s hug had transported all of us outside of the formalities and legalities of the immigration process. Lauren Blodgett, Glamour, "I Represent Migrant Children in Immigration Court. This Is What It's Like.," 26 July 2018 Foreign purchases must be approved by the Belize Central Bank, but the process is typically a formality, said Ryan Wrobel, an attorney based in Belize. Kevin Brass, New York Times, "House Hunting in … Belize," 11 Apr. 2018

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

9 May 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

formality

noun

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.

formality

noun
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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Comments on formality

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