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



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

Other Words from formative


formatively adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for formative

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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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 Farnon started as a volunteer in May 1957 when the academy was in its formative stages and rose to become executive vp. Billboard Staff, Billboard, 24 Feb. 2022 His formative period was the 1970s, years of epochal inflation and bubbles in oil, precious metals and farmland. Washington Post, 21 Jan. 2022 Identify promising personalities in their formative stages to secure maximum impact from their growing esteem and relevance. Lion Shirdan, Forbes, 19 Jan. 2022 Malcolm X was a native of Detroit, but spent a formative period in Massachusetts., 26 Nov. 2021 And Omer Yurtseven is still in his formative stages. Ira Winderman,, 13 Nov. 2021 Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, said the Gabby Petito Foundation is in the formative stages and will seek to fill in any gaps that exist in the work of finding missing people. Curt Anderson,, 22 Oct. 2021 With the scheduling alliance in its formative stages and the media rights negotiations set to begin in 12-15 months, a resurgence by the Bruins would undoubtedly help the Pac-12 sell itself. oregonlive, 6 Sep. 2021 If the potential cyclone follows a more northerly path in open waters, there is still a possibility for further strengthening but the forecast is still uncertain in the formative stages of the storm. Madeline Holcombe, Hannah Gard And Judson Jones, CNN, 11 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Any Hollywood star who has done a big movie — or at least one formative to their career — probably has taken a special prop or two from set. Andrea Towers,, 12 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of formative


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


1816, in the meaning defined above

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

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Dictionary Entries Near formative

formation rule



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Last Updated

23 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Formative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for formative


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

More from Merriam-Webster on formative

Nglish: Translation of formative for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of formative for Arabic Speakers


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