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as in nominal
being something in name or form only was the formal head of the charitable organization though he never attended a single meeting

Synonyms & Similar Words

Antonyms & Near Antonyms

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formal

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noun

Synonym Chooser

How is the word formal distinct from other similar adjectives?

Some common synonyms of formal are ceremonial, ceremonious, and conventional. While all these words mean "marked by attention to or adhering strictly to prescribed forms," formal applies both to things prescribed by and to persons obedient to custom and may suggest stiff, restrained, or old-fashioned behavior.

a formal report
the headmaster's formal manner

How do ceremonial and ceremonious relate to one another, in the sense of formal?

Ceremonial and ceremonious both imply strict attention to what is prescribed by custom or by ritual, but ceremonial applies to things that are associated with ceremonies.

a ceremonial offering

When is ceremonious a more appropriate choice than formal?

While in some cases nearly identical to formal, ceremonious applies to persons given to ceremony or to acts attended by ceremony.

made his ceremonious entrance

When would conventional be a good substitute for formal?

In some situations, the words conventional and formal are roughly equivalent. However, conventional implies accord with general custom and usage and may suggest a stodgy lack of originality or independence.

conventional courtesy
conventional fiction

Thesaurus Entries Near formal

Cite this Entry

“Formal.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/formal. Accessed 4 Feb. 2023.

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