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

Key matchup: Georgia Southern wants to run the ball from its zone triple-option attack with the QB in the pistol formation. Andy Greder, Twin Cities, "Gophers football vs. Georgia Southern: How to watch and who has the edge," 12 Sep. 2019 In one, Maduro was shown on state TV acting as commander in chief, riding in tanks and jogging in formation with soldiers. Washington Post, "Venezuela starts military exercises along Colombia border," 11 Sep. 2019 The Delphy went down and the S.P. Lee, second in the formation, was stuck fast on the reef. Scott Harrison, Los Angeles Times, "From the Archives: 23 sailors killed when U.S. Navy destroyers run aground at Honda Point," 6 Sep. 2019 One thing that may have been expected in the new formation is quarterback Ryan Agnew getting rid of the ball more quickly to receivers, but that didn’t happen against the Wildcats. San Diego Union-Tribune, "5 Things to Watch: Aztecs at UCLA," 6 Sep. 2019 She was accompanied by violinists, who sat in formation behind her. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, "Miley Cyrus Performs Her Song About Liam Hemsworth for the First Time at the VMAs," 27 Aug. 2019 Much of the uncertainty lingers instead around their role in cloud formation. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Aerosol emissions may not cool the planet as much as we thought," 1 Aug. 2019 In a dramatic move aimed at sending a message, authorities made the arrests as the Marines gathered in formation with their battalion. Julie Watson, Anchorage Daily News, "16 Marines arrested in migrant smuggling investigation," 26 July 2019 The committee’s formation comes after DeWine signed a new two-year state budget that includes $25 million in lead abatement funding and tax credits., "Trump campaign launching nationwide student grassroots program in Ohio: Capitol Letter," 16 Sep. 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

17 Oct 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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