formative

adjective
for·​ma·​tive | \ ˈfȯr-mə-tiv How to pronounce formative (audio) \

Definition of formative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : giving or capable of giving form : constructive a formative influence
b : used in word formation or inflection
2 : capable of alteration by growth and development also : producing new cells and tissues
3 : of, relating to, or characterized by formative effects or formation formative years

formative

noun

Definition of formative (Entry 2 of 2)

: the element (such as a suffix) in a word that serves to give the word appropriate form and is not part of the base

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Other Words from formative

Adjective

formatively adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for formative

Synonyms: Adjective

constructive, productive

Antonyms: Adjective

nonconstructive, nonproductive, unproductive

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Did You Know?

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.

Examples of formative in a Sentence

Adjective

This experience had a formative influence on his art. a teacher who was a formative influence on generations of students

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

For plenty of people who are adults now, Transformers were a formative part of their childhood. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Bumblebee is basically E.T., but with a Transformer. It’s delightful!," 18 Dec. 2018 That formative, cringe-inducing time was filled with angst, cliques, and a whole lot of acne. Bonnie Stiernberg, Glamour, "I Wish Every Teen Girl Would Watch Hulu's PEN15," 10 Mar. 2019 On another level, the collection was an acknowledgement of Rocha’s formative attachment to the work of Louise Bourgeois, whose themes were also a startlingly honest struggle between tenderness and sexuality, often expressed in fabrics and textiles. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "The Top 10 Collections of the Fall 2019 Season," 8 Mar. 2019 There are plans for the ALMA telescope, also based in Chile, to look within 150 light-years of the quasar for further clues to the universe's formative years. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Scientists Have Spotted Some of the Oldest Light in the Universe," 10 Jan. 2019 Seattle Seeing orca whales in the Salish Sea for the first time, 20 years ago next month, was one of the formative experiences of my life. Sean Quinton, The Seattle Times, "‘I have not slept in days’: Readers react to Tahlequah, the mother orca clinging to her dead calf," 5 Aug. 2018 In the piece, Lilla even cited his time taking a sabbatical in France as formative of his opinions on this subject. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "Trevor Noah’s feud with France over race, identity, and Africa — explained," 19 July 2018 Down both so memorable and so formative: Everything in these rabbits’ lives is a fight, because everything about living is a fight. Aja Romano, Vox, "Netflix’s new Watership Down proves the beloved children’s classic was a horror story all along," 30 Dec. 2018 The 20-year-old playmaker who has spent his formative years at Borussia Dortmund in Germany, has the vision and the skill to pilot the national team for a decade. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "U.S. Men’s Soccer Team Remains Lost in the Wilderness," 16 Nov. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of formative

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1816, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for formative

Last Updated

19 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for formative

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

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More Definitions for formative

formative

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of formative

used to describe the time when someone or something is growing or being formed
: helping to develop something

formative

adjective
for·​ma·​tive | \ ˈfȯr-mət-iv How to pronounce formative (audio) \

Medical Definition of formative

: capable of alteration by growth and development also : producing new cells and tissues

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Comments on formative

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