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

Watch the first half for a preview of Jill Ellis’ tactics for the tournament and to see how much more aggressive the United States can be with its new 4-3-3 formation. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "10 games to watch in the group stage at the Women's World Cup," 31 May 2019 From $612, With its otherworldly red rock formations and #goodvibesonly vortexes, Sedona is great for girls trips. Leena Kim, Town & Country, "5 Luxury Destinations for a Mother-Daughter Trip," 9 May 2019 Rae sat out last season because of a knee injury, so Orange Lutheran can’t wait to unleash its new double tight end formations. Eric Sondheimer,, "Ryan Hilinski continues to blossom into a star quarterback at Orange Lutheran," 7 July 2018 The England team, still in thrall to the rigidity imposed by their W-M formation, were undone by Hungary’s fluid movement and by a centre forward that refused to stand where the English expected him to., "World Cup Countdown: 7 Days to Go - What if Ferenc Puskas Had Been Fully Fit?," 7 June 2018 The reef regrew in each case, however, because of coral polyps that migrated in from elsewhere, and its live coral formations moved around over time to take advantage of the best water and light conditions available. Elizabeth Svoboda, Scientific American, "Cores from Coral Reefs Hold Secrets of the Seas’ Past and Future," 6 June 2018 Such as moving Stonehenge’s monumental bluestones from the site of their geological formation — Pembrokeshire in Wales — to the Salisbury Plain. Fox News, "Stonehenge secret revealed? Scientist suggests new theory about ancient site," 14 May 2018 But on this day, Brooks was dwelling on the impact that Ricky Skaggs had on his musical formation. Nancy Kruh,, "Garth Brooks Tearfully Welcomes His Hero Ricky Skaggs into Country Music Hall of Fame," 27 Mar. 2018 In the interim, the band expanded its original trio formation and added Maziasz on guitar. Anne Nickoloff,, "Cleveland rock band The Midnight Slander premieres new song 'Fires'," 7 Mar. 2018

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

13 Jun 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

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