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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web On his first pass of the game in shotgun formation, Smigiel took the snap and fired a deep spiral to Shane Rosenthal in full stride, resulting in a 73-yard touchdown. Eric Sondheimer, Los Angeles Times, 16 Sep. 2022 Fish found that swimming in single-file formation did indeed seem to reduce metabolic effort, especially for the youngest ducklings. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 15 Sep. 2022 Dressed in traditional gold belly-dancing ensembles and glittering face jewelry, the dancers then spread out across the stage in a new formation waving glowing orbs of light in their hands. Glenn Rowley, Billboard, 14 Sep. 2022 On a third-and-fourth, in the shotgun formation, Brissett snapped the ball and backed away in the pocket. Irie Harris, cleveland, 11 Sep. 2022 Or running 93 yards for a touchdown last fall — while playing quarterback for Pearl-Cohn in a wildcat formation. Brett Dawson, The Courier-Journal, 9 Sep. 2022 Especially against left-handed hitters, teams today often align their defenses in a triangular formation with one defender in shallow right field. Tim Brown, WSJ, 8 Sep. 2022 The parietal pleura is a membrane that's bound by connective tissue to the inner surface of the chest wall, and plays a major role in the formation and removal of pleural fluid, according to Science Direct. Rachel Desantis,, 25 July 2022 Finley lined up in shotgun formation with Ashford split out as a wide receiver. al, 4 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of formation

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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Last Updated

19 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Formation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for formation


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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