- 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 of formalMiddle English from Classical Latin formalis from forma, form
- a formal dance or ball
- a woman's evening dress