What does formal mean?

Definitions for formal
ˈfɔr məlfor·mal

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word formal.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. ball, formal(noun)

    a lavish dance requiring formal attire

  2. dinner dress, dinner gown, formal, evening gown(adj)

    a gown for evening wear

  3. formal(adj)

    being in accord with established forms and conventions and requirements (as e.g. of formal dress)

    "pay one's formal respects"; "formal dress"; "a formal ball"; "the requirement was only formal and often ignored"; "a formal education"

  4. formal(adj)

    characteristic of or befitting a person in authority

    "formal duties"; "an official banquet"

  5. formal(adj)

    (of spoken and written language) adhering to traditional standards of correctness and without casual, contracted, and colloquial forms

    "the paper was written in formal English"

  6. conventional, formal, schematic(adj)

    represented in simplified or symbolic form

  7. formal(adj)

    logically deductive

    "formal proof"

  8. courtly, formal, stately(adj)

    refined or imposing in manner or appearance; befitting a royal court

    "a courtly gentleman"


  1. formal(Noun)


    Etymology: From formel, from formel, from formalis, from forma; see form.

  2. formal(Noun)

    an evening gown

    Etymology: From formel, from formel, from formalis, from forma; see form.

  3. formal(Noun)

    an event with a formal dress code

    Jenny took Sam to her Year 12 formal.

    Etymology: From formel, from formel, from formalis, from forma; see form.

  4. formal(Adjective)

    being in accord with established forms

    Etymology: From formel, from formel, from formalis, from forma; see form.

  5. formal(Adjective)


    Etymology: From formel, from formel, from formalis, from forma; see form.

  6. formal(Adjective)

    relating to the form or structure of something

    Etymology: From formel, from formel, from formalis, from forma; see form.

  7. formal(Adjective)


    Etymology: From formel, from formel, from formalis, from forma; see form.

  8. formal(Adjective)

    Organized; well-structured and planned.

    Etymology: From formel, from formel, from formalis, from forma; see form.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Formal(noun)

    see Methylal

    Etymology: [L. formic + alcohol.]

  2. Formal(adj)

    belonging to the form, shape, frame, external appearance, or organization of a thing

    Etymology: [L. formic + alcohol.]

  3. Formal(adj)

    belonging to the constitution of a thing, as distinguished from the matter composing it; having the power of making a thing what it is; constituent; essential; pertaining to or depending on the forms, so called, of the human intellect

    Etymology: [L. formic + alcohol.]

  4. Formal(adj)

    done in due form, or with solemnity; according to regular method; not incidental, sudden or irregular; express; as, he gave his formal consent

    Etymology: [L. formic + alcohol.]

  5. Formal(adj)

    devoted to, or done in accordance with, forms or rules; punctilious; regular; orderly; methodical; of a prescribed form; exact; prim; stiff; ceremonious; as, a man formal in his dress, his gait, his conversation

    Etymology: [L. formic + alcohol.]

  6. Formal(adj)

    having the form or appearance without the substance or essence; external; as, formal duty; formal worship; formal courtesy, etc

    Etymology: [L. formic + alcohol.]

  7. Formal(adj)

    dependent in form; conventional

    Etymology: [L. formic + alcohol.]

  8. Formal(adj)

    sound; normal

    Etymology: [L. formic + alcohol.]


  1. Formal

    Formal Hall or Formal Meal is the meal held at some of the oldest, universities in the United Kingdom and Ireland at which students dress in formal attire and often gowns to dine. These are held commonly in the colleges of, for examples, Oxford, Cambridge, Dublin, Durham and St Andrews, as well as the University of London, the University of Melbourne, the University of Sydney, and Trinity College, Toronto. In a number of red brick universities, some halls such as those in at Manchester, Bristol and Exeter also practise similar traditions in order to increase interaction between academics and students, and to enrich the students' overall learning experience. The nature of Formals varies widely between the colleges and halls that hold them. In some colleges, Formals may be held every night, and are simply a second sitting of hall at which gowns are worn and grace is read. In other colleges, Formals may be special events to which guests from outside the college are frequently invited, often with themes and associated ents or "bops". In between these two extremes fall the great majority of colleges.

Editors Contribution

  1. formal

    A form of official authority.

    Formal authority is required for certain things in life like building a new build house.

    Submitted by MaryC on January 5, 2015  

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'formal' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #1597

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'formal' in Written Corpus Frequency: #2780

  3. Adjectives Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'formal' in Adjectives Frequency: #199

How to pronounce formal?

  1. Alex
    US English

How to say formal in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of formal in Chaldean Numerology is: 7

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of formal in Pythagorean Numerology is: 2

Examples of formal in a Sentence

  1. Gavin Williamson:

    I am sorry that you feel recent leaks from the National Security Council originated in my Department. I emphatically believe this was not the case, i strongly deny that I was in any way involved in this leak and I am confident that a thorough and formal inquiry would have vindicated my position.

  2. Kent Rinehart:

    We always encourage students and adults to be careful if what you put out there regardless of what you thought because it could get out in a more formal setting that you may not be intending.

  3. Stanley Cup-winning defenceman Slava Voynov:

    Earlier today, I notified the National Hockey League, the National Hockey League Players' Association and the Los Angeles Kings of my decision to immediately begin the formal process of returning to Russia with my family, i sincerely apologize to those in and around the game of hockey, who have been affected by my situation, and I also wish the players of the Los Angeles Kings success in the future.

  4. Andy Slavitt:

    In 2015 we conducted 27 financial and operational reviews, 16 in-person visits, and had 43 formal communications, not to mention hundreds of phone calls. And we've kept the states up to speed on every important interaction to help inform their regulatory actions.

  5. Quyen Epstein-Ngo:

    It could be that the last several years have seen an increased ability, or willingness, to recognize that older adolescents who are still struggling could require more formal help and support, alternatively, it could be that increased pressures on adolescents to perform and achieve are leading to a push for more ADHD assessments.

Images & Illustrations of formal

  1. formalformalformalformalformal

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Translations for formal

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    directed outward; marked by interest in others or concerned with external reality
    • A. ultimo
    • B. extroversive
    • C. indiscernible
    • D. incumbent

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