Definition of formative
- a formative influence
- formative years
This experience had a formative influence on his art.
a teacher who was a formative influence on generations of students
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'formative.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Whatever gives shape to something else may be called formative: for example, the Grand Canyon is a product of the formative power of water, and the automobile was a huge formative influence on the design of America's cities. But it usually applies to some kind of shaping that isn't physical. An ambitious plan, for example, goes through a formative stage of development. The formative years of the U.S. included experimentation with various forms of government. And the most important formative experiences in our own lives tend to take place in the first 20 years or so.
—used to describe the time when someone or something is growing or being formed
: helping to develop something
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