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 Apologies for the discharity, but parents have largely outsourced the academic formation of their children to others and are only now realizing the results. Luther Ray Abel, National Review, 17 July 2021 Extreme fire behavior, including the formation of more fire clouds, was expected to persist Friday and worsen into the weekend. Gillian Flaccus, Star Tribune, 16 July 2021 Kaz wants her relationship with Toby to move faster, which right now is going about the same speed as the formation of multicellular life on Earth. Charlotte Walsh, Vulture, 10 July 2021 Other elite singers from cities around the Northeast joined in as well, significantly raising the group’s standards and facilitating fund-raising, incorporation, and the formation of a board., 10 July 2021 Winds in a microburst can reach 100 mph, equaling the force of an F-1 tornado, but without the formation of a funnel cloud. Maria Eberhart,, 8 July 2021 Even though Gates launched the seeds of the foundation with his own philanthropies in the 1990s, French Gates took on growing, and ultimately equal, role after the formation of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. Washington Post, 7 July 2021 Higher nocturnal levels of this protein increase lipid accumulation (formation of fat) at nighttime. Meggen Taylor, Forbes, 7 July 2021 There are a couple of interesting videos playing in the center, one on the construction of the New River Gorge Bridge, and another on formation of the gorge itself. Mike And Wendy Pramik, USA TODAY, 4 July 2021

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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Time Traveler for formation

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

21 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Formation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Jul. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on formation

Nglish: Translation of formation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of formation for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about formation


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