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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from formative

Adjective

formatively adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for formative

Synonyms: Adjective

constructive, productive

Antonyms: Adjective

nonconstructive, nonproductive, unproductive

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Almost immediately following the arrests, reports circulated of terrified children who’d come home from school to discover their parents were gone — an experience of formative, and potentially lingering, trauma. Kelli María Korducki, Allure, "As ICE Raids Ramp Up, These Organizations Provide Crucial Legal Aid for Immigrants," 16 Aug. 2019 Their relationship with the sport is immediate and formative, and a person like David Ortiz is not just a successful athlete but a superhero, a god who put them on the map. Rita Indiana, BostonGlobe.com, "The David Ortiz shooting and the corruption of the Dominican dream," 12 July 2019 But the most formative, most important influence on the individual is not government. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Primaries in four states test limits of Dem surge," 14 Aug. 2018 Imagine being a teenage superhero sidekick, spending your formative years witness to perpetual violence with no one to guide you to maturity but an emotionally-unavailable mentor. Frederick Melo, Twin Cities, "Superheroes behaving badly: 12 crusading TV series target mature audiences," 4 Aug. 2019 One of Abigail Harrison’s most formative childhood memories? Samantha Leach, Glamour, "Meet Glamour's 2019 College Women of the Year," 11 June 2019 But while Ben-Gurion is lionized in Israel as the pragmatic statesman who navigated the country through its formative years, Netanyahu’s legacy will no doubt remain more divisive. Washington Post, "Netanyahu is now Israel’s longest serving leader. Watch some of the key moments on his rocky road so far.," 20 July 2019 In the Big Ten Network’s formative stages, well over a decade ago now, an argument was raised over the mission behind the network. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: IU using Big Ten Network millions for more than just athletics — and that's OK," 19 June 2019 Sanders’s formative political experience was the tenure of her father, who served as the governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007. Paige Williams, The New Yorker, "Is Sarah Huckabee Sanders the Future of the Republican Party?," 17 June 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of formative

Adjective

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

Noun

1816, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about formative

Statistics for formative

Last Updated

6 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for formative

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on formative

What made you want to look up formative? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to make a temporary encampment

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!