for·​mu·​la | \ ˈfȯr-myə-lə How to pronounce formula (audio) \
plural formulas or formulae\ ˈfȯr-​myə-​ˌlē How to pronounce formula (audio) , -​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

Examples of formula in a Sentence

Noun 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 One customer found the crossgrain leather bag capable of housing everything from baby formula to an iPad Pro. Jon Winkler, USA TODAY, 4 June 2021 In 2018, sisters Raphaelle and Stephanie Kernisant perfected the company's coconut wax candle formula in their home kitchen. Adrienne Jordan, Better Homes & Gardens, 3 June 2021 Michaela Haberkern, library executive director, said the Aurora Public Library has always chosen the statutory formula. Steve Lord,, 3 June 2021 To unlock the next level of growth, Downie and his team have made changes to the sales force design and go-to-market formula. Stephen Diorio, Forbes, 3 June 2021 The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore the pre-clearance formula from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. Michelle Stoddart, ABC News, 2 June 2021 Beingmate, a major infant formula manufacturer, climbed 8% in Shenzhen. Julia Horowitz, CNN, 1 June 2021 Huffman said the Senate’s formula does provide predictability. cleveland, 1 June 2021 This hefty newcomer doubles down on Ghost Canyon’s formula, which used its extra real estate to promote the idea of ultra-easy DIY PC building. Alaina Yee, PCWorld, 31 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective That’s pretty much the formula other teams have used in applying the beating brush to Erik Spoelstra’s crew. Ira Winderman,, 8 Apr. 2021

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

Noun and Adjective

Latin, diminutive of forma form

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Time Traveler for formula

Time Traveler

The first known use of formula was in 1618

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Statistics for formula

Last Updated

8 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Formula.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jun. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce formula (audio) \

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 How to pronounce formula (audio) \
plural formulas or formulae\ -​ˌlē How to pronounce formula (audio) , -​ˌlī How to pronounce formula (audio) \

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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