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
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In June, Chevy Racing’s program manager Rob Buckner told a group of reporters that the engine manufacturer wouldn’t be able to support more than 13 full-time programs for 2023 in what’s expected to be the final year of the current engine formula. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 5 Aug. 2022 The Biden administration has ended its conversations with the FDA about allowing adults under 50 to get a second booster with the current formula this summer. Jen Christensen, CNN, 4 Aug. 2022 Three Weeks, in so many ways, predicted the formula for the romance novels that would follow it. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, 4 Aug. 2022 The creamy formula comes in 13 rich colors, ranging from soft pinks and nudes to deep reds and browns. Nicol Natale, Peoplemag, 2 Aug. 2022 When the formula is applied to electronic sound, the result is a bass-heavy noise. Ashley Stimpson, Popular Mechanics, 2 Aug. 2022 The formula is also made with natural sugarcane alcohol and sustainably harvested jasmine. Lindy Segal, Harper's BAZAAR, 2 Aug. 2022 This pick uses Redmond Real Salt sourced from an ancient seabed in Utah to add sodium to the formula. Good Housekeeping, 1 Aug. 2022 In this formula, M is the mass of the planet or moon and R is its radius. Wired, 31 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Califf did not cite the formula shortage as the main reason for the overhaul but spoke of an increasingly complicated food system that requires a new approach. Laura Reiley,, 20 July 2022 Califf did not cite the formula shortage as the main reason for the overhaul but spoke of an increasingly complicated food system that requires a new approach. Laura Reiley, Washington Post, 20 July 2022 Women farmworkers bear the brunt of the formula shortage in ways that other consumers can't begin to understand, said Treviño-Sauceda. Parija Kavilanz, CNN, 20 July 2022 Forest Park police did not say if this recent case of malnourishment was related to the formula shortage. Henri Hollis, ajc, 8 June 2022 Driving a Formula 1 car in 2018 sparked my interest in a formula style car. Wilson Moore, The Indianapolis Star, 26 May 2022 Begich, in a phone interview, rejected the argument against the $30 increase in per-student spending, saying the small boost is meaningful given how formula spending has stagnated in recent years. Iris Samuels, Anchorage Daily News, 25 May 2022 The idea for the letter to Vilsack arose from a May 17 legislative hearing, led by Anwar, to hear parents’ concerns about the formula shortage crisis. Susan Dunne, Hartford Courant, 23 May 2022 This week, the House passed a bill that would give the FDA $28 million extra in funding to address the formula shortage. Daedan Olander, The Salt Lake Tribune, 20 May 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near formula

form/term of address



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Last Updated

7 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Formula.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for formula


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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