- The definition of formal is something that follows rules, is a dressy or important occasion, or something that has official sanctioning or approval.
- An example of formal is a dinner party at a mansion where everyone dresses up in fancy clothes and is very polite.
- An example of formal is when a judge gives official approval of something.
formal definition by Webster's New World
Webster's New World College Dictionary Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- of external form or structure, rather than nature or content
- of the internal form; relating to the intrinsic or essential character or nature
- of or according to prescribed or fixed customs, rules, ceremonies, etc.: a formal wedding
- having the appearance of being suitable, correct, etc., but not really so
- stiff in manner; not warm or relaxed
- designed for use or wear at ceremonies, elaborate parties, etc.: formal dress
- requiring clothes of this kind: a formal dance
- done or made in orderly, regular fashion; methodical
- very regular or orderly in arrangement, pattern, etc.; rigidly symmetrical: a formal garden
- done or made according to the forms that make explicit, definite, valid, etc.: a formal contract
- designating education in schools, colleges, etc.
- designating or of the level of language usage characterized by expanded vocabulary, complete syntactic constructions, complex sentences, etc.
Origin: Middle English ; from Classical Latin formalis ; from forma, form
- a formal dance or ball
- a woman's evening dress
formal definition by American Heritage Dictionary
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition Copyright © 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
- a. Relating to or involving outward form or structure.b. Being or relating to essential form or constitution: a formal principle.
- a. Following or being in accord with accepted forms, conventions, or regulations: had little formal education; went to a formal party.b. Executed, carried out, or done in proper or regular form: a formal reprimand; a formal document.
- a. Characterized by strict or meticulous observation of forms; methodical: very formal in their business transactions.b. Stiffly ceremonious: a formal manner; a formal greeting; a formal bow to the monarch.
- Having the outward appearance but lacking in substance: a formal requirement that is usually ignored.
Something, such as a gown or social affair, that is formal in nature.
Origin: Middle English, from Latin fōrmālis, from fōrma, shape.
- forˈmal·ly adverb
- forˈmal·ness noun
formal - Phrases/Idioms
Informal to go dressed in evening clothes