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

In addition, breaks help restore your focus on your overarching goals, increase creativity and improve memory formation. 5. Ryan Korstange, The Conversation, "5 tips for college students to avoid burnout," 19 Aug. 2019 All of Encana’s projects in the Permian Basin this year have targeted the prolific Spraberry formation. Sergio Chapa, Houston Chronicle, "Drilling Down: Encana roars back to life with Permian Basin projects," 19 Aug. 2019 On one play against Minnesota last season, New Orleans had three quarterbacks on the field at the same time, putting Hill in shotgun and bookending the formation with Brees and Teddy Bridgewater as decoy receivers. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Saints’ Taysom Hill is a do-it-all quarterback still perfecting his game," 18 Aug. 2019 This leads to the LBs coming off the field often and Denver relying on a lot of nickel and dime formations on defense. Matt De Lima,, "Fantasy Football: The Invaluable Three-Down Linebacker on Each Team's Roster," 17 Aug. 2019 Coach Peter Lofthouse, hired in March 2018 to take over after longtime coach Jeff Brinkley retired, was still doing things like assembling his staff and trying to install new concepts and formations. Matt Szabo, Daily Pilot, "High School Football Preview: Newport Harbor vies for more Sunset League relevance," 15 Aug. 2019 But like each of the other proposed formation channels for black hole mergers, the triple process has pieces that researchers still need to figure out. Quanta Magazine, "To Make Two Black Holes Collide, Try Three," 15 Aug. 2019 Coaches must alter formations and flip plays, because lefties drop back and run play-action fakes differently. Sam Fortier,, "Why aren’t there any left-handed quarterbacks in the NFL?," 15 Aug. 2019 Three weeks later, on July 25, another 16 Marines were arrested during battalion formation in connection with the alleged smuggling operation and unspecified drug offenses. Andrew Dyer, San Diego Union-Tribune, "12 Camp Pendleton Marines arrested in July face charges in smuggling operation," 12 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

22 Aug 2019

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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).


not constant or steady

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