for·​ma·​tion | \ fȯr-ˈmā-shən How to pronounce formation (audio) \

Definition of formation

1 : an act of giving form or shape to something or of taking form : development
2 : something that is formed new word formations
3 : the manner in which a thing is formed : structure the peculiar formation of the heart
4 : a major kind of plant growth (such as forest, grassland, or tundra) characteristic of a broad ecological region
5a : any igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic rock represented as a unit
b : any sedimentary bed or consecutive series of beds sufficiently homogeneous or distinctive to be a unit
6 : an arrangement of a body or group of persons or things in some prescribed manner or for a particular purpose flying in formation

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Examples of formation in a Sentence

The book explains the formation of the planets. The soldiers were marching in formation. The team ran on the field and lined up in a punt formation.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Two plays later, Brandon Inniss, who was in the Wildcat formation, bobbled a direct snap from center before regaining possession of the ball, reversing direction to his right and sprinting 52 yards for a touchdown and a 35-27 lead. Steve Evans,, "U-School, up 28-0, escapes resilient Hialeah 35-27," 31 Aug. 2019 The Geico Skytypers Air Show team is a six-plane World War II group that flies in close formation while performing for crowds. Hannah Drown,, "See Cleveland views as Hannah Drown flies with Geico Skytypers Air Show team on Facebook Live around 1 p.m.," 29 Aug. 2019 Moore and Skerik formed Garage A Trois in 1998 and have played in multiple other formations together. Chris Bieri, Anchorage Daily News, "Stanton & Skerik’s Emerald Quintet promises rare, energetic show," 29 Aug. 2019 In that formation, the center snapped the ball to the tailback, who had a fullback, a quarterback and wingback lined up to one side of him in a diagonal line toward the line of scrimmage. Will Larkin,, "Ranking the 100 best Bears players ever: No. 5, Sid Luckman," 29 Aug. 2019 One wrinkle to Bell’s design, said Roberts, was heavy use of unbalanced lines in the blocking formation. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: For Dodgers’ Dave Roberts, power dominance parallels days as San Diego prep QB," 26 Aug. 2019 Betteridge will help with his blocking and pass receiving and Peters and Mingee are excellent blockers in the T-formation. Mick Mccabe, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan high school football: Mick McCabe's top 25 teams for 2019," 25 Aug. 2019 Students from schools in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District faced suspension in an unrelated incident in March after photos emerged of them playing beer pong with cups set up in swastika formation. NBC News, "After school Nazi salute video, more racist videos emerge," 21 Aug. 2019 So far this month, the Broncos have put five players back in return formation. Ryan O'halloran, The Denver Post, "Broncos Mailbag: What are the non-Garett Bolles options at left tackle?," 20 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'formation.' 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 formation

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Dictionary Entries near formation






formation rule


Statistics for formation

Last Updated

5 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for formation

The first known use of formation was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for formation



English Language Learners Definition of formation

: the act of forming or creating something
: something that is formed or created
: an orderly arrangement or group of people, ships, or airplanes


for·​ma·​tion | \ fȯr-ˈmā-shən How to pronounce formation (audio) \

Kids Definition of formation

1 : a creation or development of something the formation of good habits
2 : something that is formed or created a cloud formation
3 : an arrangement of something battle formation punt formation


for·​ma·​tion | \ fȯr-ˈmā-shən How to pronounce formation (audio) \

Medical Definition of formation

1 : an act of giving form or shape to something or of taking form : development
2 : the manner in which a thing is formed : structure

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Comments on formation

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


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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