Meaning of FORM in English

I. ˈfȯ(ə)rm, -ȯ(ə)m noun

( -s )

Usage: often attributive

Etymology: Middle English forme, fourme, from Old French, from Latin forma, perhaps modification of Greek morphē; perhaps akin to Greek marmairein to flash, sparkle — more at morn

1. obsolete : image , representation


a. : the shape and structure of something as distinguished from the material of which it is composed

the carefully graded form of the curves

b. : a body especially of a human being as distinguished (1) by external appearance or (2) from the countenance or visage : figure

the dress displayed her form to advantage

c. archaic : pleasing external appearance : beauty

he had no form or comeliness — Isa 53:2 (Revised Standard Version)


a. : the ideal or intrinsic character of anything or something that imposes this character ; sometimes : a pattern or schema

b. in metaphysics : the essential nature of a thing as distinguished from the matter in which this is embodied: as

(1) in Platonic philosophy : a transcendent idea, universal essence, or subsistent entity

(2) in Aristotelian or scholastic philosophy : the component of a thing that determines it in its kind or species : formal cause — often distinguished from matter

(3) in Baconian philosophy : the basis constituting the condition for the existence of any given nature or quality (as density, heat, or color)

c. in Kantian philosophy : one of the formative modes of perception and cognition regarded as a subjective factor molding reality as given in sensation into systematic experience especially as regards spatial and temporal order


a. obsolete : manner, method, or style (as of proceeding)

b. : established method of expression or practice : fixed or formal way of proceeding : procedure according to rule or rote

c. : a prescribed and usually set order of words : formula

the form of the marriage service in the prayer book

d. obsolete : recipe , prescription


(1) : a printed or typed document with blank spaces for insertion of required or requested specific information

a form for a deed

be sure to fill all blanks on your tax form

(2) : a document of this kind which is attached to and forms an endorsement of a property insurance policy and in which is filled in a description of the property insured ; broadly : such an endorsement containing alterations or modifications of the provisions of a standard policy


a. : conduct regulated by extraneous controls (as of custom or etiquette) : ceremony , conventionality , formality ; sometimes : show without substance : empty pretentious appearance or ceremony

b. : a prescribed manner of behaving (as in society)

the rigid form of the imperial court

: an act of conduct or mode of precedure prescribed (as by custom or a code of etiquette)

the complex forms and taboos of the savage

: formality , ceremony , conventionality

knew all the forms for wooing a proper young miss

c. : manner or conduct as tested by a prescribed or accepted standard — used with a qualifying adjective

his behavior was often bad form

such poor form is to be deplored

d. : manner or style of performing or accomplishing something especially when recognized standards of technique exist

he is a strong swimmer but weak on form


a. : the resting place of a hare or occasionally of another animal

b. : a long seat : joint stool , bench

seated on a low form against the wall

c. : a supporting frame model of the human figure or other device used for displaying merchandise in a store ; also : a proportioned and often adjustable model for fitting clothes

d. : something that holds, supports, and gives or determines shape ; especially : a mold in which concrete is placed to set

7. obsolete

a. : degree of quality, dignity, eminence, or excellence

b. : a class or rank especially in society or official life


a. : the total combination of the letterpress matter imposed and locked up in a chase with the furniture, quoins, and the chase itself

b. : set-up type

how to move forms from the galley to the stone

wind the cord clockwise around the form


a. : one of the different modes of existence, action, or manifestation of a particular thing or substance : kind , modification , species , variety

the diamond, graphite, and soot are allotropic forms of carbon

the democratic form of government

one form of respiratory disorder

the form of vegetation typical of xerophytic areas

b. also for·ma -mə : a botanical taxonomic category ranking below a variety and consisting of individuals that differ from those of related forms in one or very few characters

the discretiflorus form of the rush Juncus tenuis

also : a member of such a category

c. : a distinguishable group of organisms — commonly used by zoologists to avoid taxonomic implications

the southern form of the hairy woodpecker


a. : orderly arrangement or method of arrangement (as in the presentation of ideas) : manner of coordinating elements (as of an artistic production or course of reasoning) ; sometimes : a particular kind or instance of such arrangement

the sonnet is a poetical form

b. in logic

(1) : the structure, pattern, or schema possessed in common by different logical statements especially as disclosed through the substitution of variables for different descriptive terms so that the manner in which the terms are interrelated becomes apparent

(2) : the structure of an argument or an inference as symbolized by the use of variables

(3) : the logical properties of a word, expression, or symbol as exhibited by its contribution to the logical form of statements in which it may properly occur

c. : the structural element, plan, or design of a work of art ; specifically : the combinations and relations to each other of various components (as lines, colors, and volumes in a visual work of art or themes and elaborations in an aural work of art)

form consists in a pattern of relationships that gives unity to a complex of perceptual elements — F.S.Haserot

— often contrasted with content

d. : a relationship between or among elements of raw subject matter (as in a painting) which is sensed and made structural by the artist ; also : a visible and measurable unit defined by a contour : a bounded surface or volume or a system of visible elements


(1) : the structural pattern of a musical composition

(2) : a specific type (as fugue, rondo, sonata) of such pattern

11. : a class or grade in a British secondary school or in certain American private schools — see sixth form


a. : the past performance of a race horse ; often : a table giving details relating to a horse's past performance (as handicaps, jockeys, odds) used by bettors in making selections

a form sheet

a racing form

form players

b. : condition , fitness

preseason workouts to get in form for the regular season

often : known ability to perform

a batter off his form at the plate

a musician playing at the top of his form

13. : the combination of faces included under a general crystallographic symbol and necessary to satisfy the symmetry of the crystal

a single crystal often exhibits faces of two or more crystal forms which supplement one another or truncate one another's edges or corners


a. : linguistic form

b. : one of the different aspects a word may take as a result of inflection or change of spelling or pronunciation

obsolete, participial, or verbal forms

15. mathematics : a rational integral homogeneous function of a set of variables

16. : the immature flower bud of the cotton plant

17. : book 1d(1)

18. : the profile of a screw thread


formality , ceremony , ceremonial , rite , ritual , liturgy : form is a general word and usually lacks any special connotation

there had been no fixed order for the coronation of an English king, and the form which was observed at Bath was reached only after … two experimental drafts — F.M.Stenton

his inclinations toward the forms of the Church of England — G.H.Genzmer

made his declaration in form — Jane Austen

Modified, as by good or bad, form indicates the degree of conformity to established usage or custom

it was accepted poetic good form that the lover, writing of his lady, should inventory her charms from top to toe — J.L.Lowes

nothing could be worse form … than any display of temper in a public place — Edith Wharton

form may indicate a traditional or sanctioned procedure lacking force, significance, or real vitality

if congress remains at liberty to give this court appellate jurisdiction … the distribution of jurisdiction made in the Constitution is form without substance — John Marshall

formality applies either to a prescribed procedural detail, often one done perfunctorily and lacking in import, or to an attitude of punctilious, reserved stiffness

the first reading of a public bill is a formality and is in effect little more than information given to the House that the bill is on its way — R.M.Dawson

the cold formality of the duchess's court

ceremony is likely to suggest dignified, impressive, elaborate, or punctilious performance of actions ranging from those of deep spiritual significance to little everyday courtesies or routine actions

the ceremonies at the investiture of a pope

ceremonies in honor of the martyred king

the beauty of an inherited courtesy of manners, of a thousand little ceremonies flowing out of the most ordinary relations and observances of life — Laurence Binyon

ceremonial , occasionally a synonym for ceremony , is more likely to suggest a system or code of prescribed ceremonies

the gorgeous ceremonial of the Burgundian court — W.H.Prescott

rite indicates the prescribed speech and action of a special formal occasion, especially a very significant or unusual one, an ordinary event treated as though of major importance, or an esoteric practice

had gone through this formality as resignedly as through all the others which made of a nineteenth century New York wedding a rite that seemed to belong to the dawn of history — Edith Wharton

the semipagan rites peculiar to the burial of the dead in middle-class houses — Rudyard Kipling

abhorred rites to Hecate in their obscured haunts — John Milton

ritual in its older sense indicates the totality of the rites of service or faith

the Roman ritual had always a great attraction for him — Oscar Wilde

More frequently today it designates any series of actions given an unusual importance and a prescribed order or manner

the ritual of asepsis today is the same the world over — Harvey Graham

it was essential to reach a cave around the next headland where she would sit down facing the sea before she thought about anything — thus making a little ritual against despair — Audrey Barker

Where it is not an equivalent for ritual or rite , liturgy may indicate the prescribed form for an act or session of worship as written and accepted

he [Henry VIII] insisted on … the maintenance of full ritual in the liturgy — Hilaire Belloc


figure , shape , conformation , configuration : form may suggest an appearance in which both clear outline and also structure and orderly disposition of details are presented or suggested

appearing in book form

the republican form of government

a sense of interdependence and interrelated unity that gave form to intellectual stirrings that had been previously inchoate — John Dewey

school architecture throughout the state is highly specialized. Rigid state laws for heating, ventilation, and lighting offer little opportunity for variation on standard form — American Guide Series: New Jersey

figure is likely to call attention to outlines, to bounding, enclosing circumference or outer lines

a geometrical figure

the figures of a dance

the cloud figures in the sky — Sylvia Berkman

the president rose to his great height, a somber, towering figure in black — Sir Winston Churchill

shape may sometimes suggest both outline and also content, mass, body, bulk, or detail

hat shapes of beaver, coon, otter, and other skins — American Guide Series: Connecticut

the construction of a play sets up its shape, and builds its skeleton — John Van Druten

the shape of an idea emerged gradually out of the fog of words — Ellen Glasgow

whole stone logs are found, some wonderfully and delicately colored, in the shape of the Asiatic gingko tree — American Guide Series: Washington

conformation is usable in reference to whole complicated structure or to detailed arrangement or presentation

they failed to find any relation between altitude tolerance and body stature or conformation — H.G.Armstrong

a culture acquires its conformation and specificity from the uniqueness of its institutions — Abram Kardiner

configuration is applicable to a detailed outline or statement of the nature and disposition or arrangement of various parts

he used to wake up and not know where he was, but the configurations of a dream could easily have taken on such a shape as this — the dining room of the Marlborough in the shadowy light of early morning — Hamilton Basso

though the main street is wide and lined with stores, most of the others fit crookedly into the configurations of the valley — American Guide Series: Pennsylvania


usage , convention , convenance : these nouns all have in common the sense of a fixed or accepted way of doing something. form can apply to a prescribed or approved way of behaving, method of procedure, or technique in any sphere of activity where correctness or uniformity of method or manner is thought essential

the forms of good conduct

the forms of worship

good form in swimming

a form of address

usage implies the sanction of precedent or tradition, often designating a form preserved out of respect for a class, profession, or religion

descriptions of usages presuppose descriptions of uses, that is, ways or techniques of doing the thing the more or less widely prevailing practice of doing which constitutes the usage — Gilbert Ryle

to bury in the first furrow certain fruits of a particular structure, such as figs, pomegranates, and locust beans, is a usage frequently observed — J.G.Frazer

convention , often interchangeable with form , especially in application to social behavior, stresses general agreement and therefore applies to some set way of doing or saying something that is sanctioned or believed to be sanctioned only by general unquestioning acceptance

this music followed conventions perfectly understood by the contemporaries — P.H.Lang

certain parliamentary conventions which exist to supplement the rules of procedure — T.E.May

this genius who was too wild and elemental ever to conform to any aesthetic convention — H.M.Ledig-Rowohlt

convenance , a literary term still retaining some of its character as a loanword, applies only to social conventions especially regarded as essential to propriety or decorum

disregarding the social convenances, continued to chatter on — R.H.Sampson

the convenances of life — A.C.Benson

II. verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: Middle English formen, fourmen, from Old French former, fourmer, from Latin formare, from forma, n.

transitive verb


a. : to give form or shape to : frame , construct , make , fashion

man, formed of earth, to earth returns

the skilled craftsman forms and finishes the rough stone to a thing of beauty

b. : to constitute by nominating or appointing individuals to governmental positions usually associated with membership in a cabinet or government

asked to form a new cabinet — M.S.Stewart

was called upon to form a government — Kenneth Lawson


a. : to give a particular shape to : shape, mold, or fashion into a certain state or condition or after a particular model : arrange , adjust

form the paste into lozenges and roll them in sugar

a state formed after the Roman republic

b. : to model by instruction and discipline : mold especially by influence

'tis education forms the common mind — Alexander Pope

3. : develop , acquire , contract

form a habit

4. : to serve to make up or constitute : be a usually essential or basic element of

bonds formed the bulk of his estate

her hat was formed of feathers


a. : to treat (plates) for use in an electrical storage battery by coating the positive plate with lead dioxide and the negative plate with spongy lead

b. : to treat (mercury arc rectifiers) to remove all moisture and gas after a period of idleness or after opening the tank


a. : to have (as a tense) expressed

forms the past tense in -ed

b. : to combine to make (a compound word)

c. : to make up : constitute

form a clause or sentence

7. : to arrange in order : draw up

the battalion advanced as soon as its lines were formed

8. : to bend or stretch (metal) to conform to the shape of a die or other tool

intransitive verb

1. : to become formed or shaped

a clot formed gradually over the cut

2. : to take form : come into existence : arise

popular protest formed steadily

thunderheads were forming over the hills

3. : to take on a definite form, shape, or arrangement

the infantry formed in columns

4. of a hare : to run to or crouch in a form

Synonyms: see make

- form on

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.