Meaning of FORMAL in English

/ ˈfɔːml; NAmE ˈfɔːrml/ adjective


( of a style of dress, speech, writing, behaviour, etc. ) very correct and suitable for official or important occasions :

formal evening dress

The dinner was a formal affair.

He kept the tone of the letter formal and businesslike.

She has a very formal manner, which can seem unfriendly.

OPP informal


official; following an agreed or official way of doing things :

formal legal processes

to make a formal apology / complaint / request

Formal diplomatic relations between the two countries were re-established in December.

It is time to put these arrangements on a slightly more formal basis.


( of education or training ) received in a school, college or university, with lessons, exams, etc., rather than gained just through practical experience :

He has no formal teaching qualifications.

Young children are beginning their formal education sometimes as early as four years old.


concerned with the way sth is done rather than what is done :

Getting approval for the plan is a purely formal matter; nobody will seriously oppose it.

Critics have concentrated too much on the formal elements of her poetry, without really looking at what it is saying.


( of a garden, room or building ) arranged in a regular manner, according to a clear, exact plan :

delightful formal gardens, with terraced lawns and an avenue of trees

OPP informal

►  for·mal·ly / -məli; NAmE / adverb :

'How do you do?' she said formally.

The accounts were formally approved by the board.

Although not formally trained as an art historian, he is widely respected for his knowledge of the period.



late Middle English : from Latin formalis , from forma shape, mould.

Oxford Advanced Learner's English Dictionary.      Оксфордский английский словарь для изучающик язык на продвинутом уровне.