English dictionary

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English adjective: formal

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

SamplesPay one's formal respects.
Formal dress.
A formal ball.
The requirement was only formal and often ignored.
A formal education.

Similarblack-tie, buckram, ceremonial, ceremonious, conventional, dress, dress, form-only, full-dress, full-dress, nominal, perfunctory, positive, prescribed, pro forma, semi-formal, semiformal, starchy, stiff, titular, white-tie

See alsoconventional, formal

Attributeformality, formalness


2. formal characteristic of or befitting a person in authority

SamplesFormal duties.
An official banquet.



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

SamplesThe paper was written in formal English.


See alsoformal, rhetorical

Attributeformality, formalness


4. formal represented in simplified or symbolic form

Synonymsconventional, schematic


Domain categorybeaux arts, fine arts


5. formal logically deductive

SamplesFormal proof.


Antonymsillogical, unlogical

6. formal refined or imposing in manner or appearance; befitting a royal court

SamplesA courtly gentleman.

Synonymscourtly, stately



English noun: formal

1. formal (event) a lavish dance requiring formal attire


Broader (hypernym)dance

Narrower (hyponym)cotilion, cotillion, fancy-dress ball, masked ball, masquerade ball, prom, promenade

2. formal (artifact) a gown for evening wear

Synonymsdinner dress, dinner gown, evening gown

Broader (hypernym)evening clothes, evening dress, eveningwear, formalwear, gown

Based on WordNet 3.0 copyright © Princeton University.
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