formal

adjective (1)
for·​mal | \ˈfȯr-məl \

Definition of formal 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : belonging to or constituting the form or essence of a thing formal cause

b : relating to or involving the outward form, structure, relationships, or arrangement of elements rather than content formal logic a formal style of painting a formal approach to comparative linguistics

2a : following or according with established form, custom, or rule lacked formal schooling a formal dinner party formal attire

b : done in due or lawful form a formal contract received formal recognition

3a : characterized by punctilious respect for form : methodical very formal in all his dealings

b : rigidly ceremonious : prim the ambience was overly formal, everyone but me was wearing a suit and tie— James Suckling

4 : having the appearance without the substance formal Christians who go to church only at Easter

formal

noun

Definition of formal (Entry 2 of 3)

: something (such as a dance or a dress) formal in character

formal

adjective (2)

Definition of formal (Entry 3 of 3)

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from formal

Adjective (1)

formally \ ˈfȯr-​mə-​lē \ adverb
formalness noun

Synonyms for formal

Synonyms: Noun

ball, cotillion (also cotillon), dance, hop, prom

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for formal

Adjective (1)

ceremonial, ceremonious, formal, conventional mean marked by attention to or adhering strictly to prescribed forms. ceremonial and ceremonious both imply strict attention to what is prescribed by custom or by ritual, but ceremonial applies to things that are associated with ceremonies a ceremonial offering , ceremonious to persons given to ceremony or to acts attended by ceremony. made his ceremonious entrance formal applies both to things prescribed by and to persons obedient to custom and may suggest stiff, restrained, or old-fashioned behavior. a formal report the headmaster's formal manner conventional implies accord with general custom and usage conventional courtesy and may suggest a stodgy lack of originality or independence. conventional fiction

Examples of formal in a Sentence

Noun

he asked her to the formal at the end of the year

First Known Use of formal

Adjective (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1605, in the meaning defined above

Adjective (2)

circa 1934, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for formal

Adjective (1)

Middle English, from Latin formalis, from forma

Noun

see formal entry 1

Adjective (2)

formula + -al entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about formal

Statistics for formal

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for formal

The first known use of formal was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for formal

formal

noun

English Language Learners Definition of formal

: a social gathering (such as a dance) that requires formal dress and manners : a formal event

formal

adjective
for·​mal | \ˈfȯr-məl \

Kids Definition of formal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : following established form, custom, or rule She wrote a formal apology.

2 : acquired by attending classes in a school a formal education

3 : requiring proper clothing and manners a formal dance

4 : suitable for a proper occasion formal attire

Other Words from formal

formally adverb

formal

noun

Kids Definition of formal (Entry 2 of 2)

: a social gathering that requires proper clothing and behavior

formal

adjective
for·​mal

Legal Definition of formal 

1 : relating to or involving outward form, structure, or arrangement rather than content a formal defect in the pleadings

2 : requiring special or established solemnities or formalities especially in order to be effective or valid under the law received formal notice a formal criminal charge

3 : being such only as a matter of form : nominal a formal party to a lawsuit

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on formal

What made you want to look up formal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a private place of worship

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!