for·​mu·​la | \ˈfȯr-myə-lə \
plural formulas or formulae\ˈfȯr-​myə-​ˌlē, -​ˌlī \

Definition of formula 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a set form of words for use in a ceremony or ritual

b : a conventionalized statement intended to express some fundamental truth or principle especially as a basis for negotiation or action

2a(1) : recipe The product is made using a secret formula that the company refuses to reveal.

(2) : prescription

b : a milk mixture or substitute for feeding an infant

3a : a general fact, rule, or principle expressed in usually mathematical symbols

b : a symbolic expression of the chemical composition or constitution of a substance

c : a group of symbols (such as letters and numbers) associated to express facts or data (such as the number and kinds of teeth in the jaw) concisely

d : a combination of signs in a logical calculus

4 : a customary or set form or method allowing little room for originality All her books were written according to a familiar formula.



Definition of formula (Entry 2 of 2)

: of, relating to, or being an open-wheel open-cockpit rear-engine racing car conforming to prescribed specifications as to size, weight, and engine displacement

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Other Words from formula


formulaic \ˌfȯr-​myə-​ˈlā-​ik \ adjective
formulaically \ˌfȯr-​myə-​ˈlā-​ə-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Examples of formula in a Sentence


His investment strategy is based on a simple formula. This has proven to be a winning formula. The product is made using a secret formula that the company refuses to reveal. The formula for water is H2O. infants drinking formula instead of their mother's milk
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Namely, the outsider studios have figured out their own winning formula: focusing on Marvel's anti-heroes (the ones that Disney probably can't make theme-park rides out of). Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Venom film review: Stupid, but still good enough to bite your head off," 5 Oct. 2018 Brands such as Hot Shot and Freeze 12 have their own formulas that don't include butane or propane, but Figueroa isn't a fan of any DIY cans. Matthew Jancer, Popular Mechanics, "Everything You Should Know About Fixing Your Car's A/C," 11 Sep. 2018 Analysts see CA Technologies as a way for Broadcom to acquire a highly profitable mainframe business that would broaden its portfolio, and apply its belt-tightening formula to raise profits. New York Times, "Broadcom Reaches Nearly $19 Billion Deal to Buy CA Technologies," 11 July 2018 For Season 5 of the Producer Series, the popular cognac brand tinkered their formula and added a new ingredient into the mix. Carl Lamarre, Billboard, "Big Sean on Joining Rèmy Martin's Producer Series, Kanye Making Beats Again & Why Pharrell Is 'On the Rushmore of Music'," 5 July 2018 Photographer: Matt Martin ; Prop Stylist: Mariana Vera for Halley Resources GQ’s Best Stuff has your foolproof formula for acing reception-ready style. Yang-yi Goh, GQ, "Here’s How to Get Dressed for All Those Summer Weddings," 2 July 2018 Stern likes Kjaer Weis Highlighter in Radiance for cheeks because its creamy, luscious texture and faint iridescence, as well as Glossier Haloscope in Quartz for its easy-to-apply stick formula and wear-anywhere subtlety. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "How to Get Glowing Skin," 25 June 2018 Either way, Jefferson, who played for the Cardinals for four seasons before signing with the Baltimore Ravens in 2017, wanted to make sure his formula was out there ahead of the big day. azcentral, "Former Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson claims to 'have the formula for the Suns' success'," 21 June 2018 Gatorade was founded at the University of Florida in 1965, creating the sports drink industry with its electrolyte-replacement formula. Robert Channick,, "Gatorade prevails in trademark lawsuit over 'Sports Fuel' name," 18 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'formula.' 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 formula


1618, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1951, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for formula


Latin, diminutive of forma form


see formula entry 1

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Statistics for formula

Last Updated

1 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for formula

The first known use of formula was in 1618

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More Definitions for formula



English Language Learners Definition of formula

: a plan or method for doing, making, or achieving something

: a list of the ingredients used for making something (such as a medicine or a drink)

mathematics : a general fact or rule expressed in letters and symbols


for·​mu·​la | \ˈfȯr-myə-lə \

Kids Definition of formula

1 : a direction giving amounts of the substances for the preparation of something (as a medicine)

2 : an established form or method a formula for success

3 : a milk mixture or substitute for feeding a baby

4 : a general fact or rule expressed in symbols We learned a formula for finding the size of an angle.

5 : an expression in symbols giving the makeup of a substance The chemical formula for water is H2O.


for·​mu·​la | \ˈfȯr-myə-lə \
plural formulas or formulae\-​ˌlē, -​ˌlī \

Medical Definition of formula 

1a : a recipe or prescription giving method and proportions of ingredients for the preparation of some material (as a medicine)

b : a milk mixture or substitute (as one containing soybean protein) for feeding an infant

2 : a symbolic expression showing the composition or constitution of a chemical substance and consisting of symbols for the elements present and subscripts to indicate the relative or total number of atoms present in a molecule the formula for ethyl alcohol is C2H5OH — see empirical formula, molecular formula, structural formula

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More from Merriam-Webster on formula

Spanish Central: Translation of formula

Nglish: Translation of formula for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of formula for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about formula

Comments on formula

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


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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