Definition of form in English:


Line breaks: form
Pronunciation: /fɔːm


  • 2A particular way in which a thing exists or appears: essays in book form energy in the form of light
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    • Virtually all the important research continues to appear in the form of papers in journals.
    • Draft policies then appeared in the form of reports brought before Council for formal approval.
    • The survey will be in the form of a questionnaire, asking about people's experience of the NHS in their area.
    manifestation, appearance, embodiment, incarnation, semblance, shape, guise, character, description, expression
  • 2.1Any of the ways in which a word may be spelled, pronounced, or inflected: an adjectival form
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    • In other instances, there are related prepositional and adverbial forms.
    • These different shapes spell out word forms that belong to the verb lexeme crown.
    • English does not require the use of gender-differentiated forms of the definite article and other similar words.
  • 2.2 Philosophy The essential nature of a species or thing, especially (in Plato’s thought) regarded as an abstract ideal which real things imitate or participate in.
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    • Whitehead sees them as ingredients in an experience and rather similar to Plato's ideal forms.
    • Art as vision locates the subject of art in the artist, not in an external world of real or ideal forms.
    • The most adequately objective knowledge we could have would be of the nature of these abiding forms fixed in the nature of things.
  • 3A type or variety of something: sponsorship is a form of advertising
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    • The two most effective forms of mass direct action are riots and strikes.
    • Early forms of male pattern balding do well with treatment.
    • The geological period known as the Cambrian is marked by the rather sudden appearance of all the basic forms of animals now in existence.
  • 3.1An artistic or literary genre: a form is as good as the writer who chooses it
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    • Prolific and hard-working, de Pisan wrote in most of the contemporary forms and genres.
    • The satirist may use different forms of literature in prose or verse.
    • Film-making is best learned on the job, like many other artistic or literary forms.
  • 3.2 Botany A taxonomic category that ranks below variety, which contains organisms differing from the typical kind in some trivial, frequently impermanent, character, e.g. a colour variant. Also called forma.
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    • Seventeen species/botanical forms representing all the Old World lupins and one New World species were used in the experiment.
    • The islands are very rich floristically, with a high proportion of shrubs and other woody forms.
    • Indeed, like most flowering plants, both forms were hermaphrodites.
  • 4 [mass noun] The customary or correct method or procedure: an excessive concern for legal form and precedent
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    • This is not correct form in polite company, but then, I generally avoid polite company.
    • Beneath these arguments about legal form lie the wider issues of self-determination.
    • For form's sake, she apologised and said she'd replace it.
    etiquette, social practice, custom, usage, use, habit, wont, protocol, procedure, rules, convention, tradition, fashion, style, routine, ritual, pattern, regimen, policy, method, system, way, rule, formula, set formula; Latin modus operandi
    formal praxis
    good manners, manners, polite behaviour, correct behaviour, acceptable conduct, convention, etiquette, protocol
    informal the done thing
  • 4.1 [count noun] A ritual or convention: the outward forms of religion
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    • The Act of Supremacy (1559) established the Church of England as the State religion. Those who rejected its outward forms and practices were fined, or worse.
    • It is true that this general election does still adhere to some of the old forms and conventions of British democracy.
    • Divine activities do not seem to be limited only to forms which have undergone ritual consecration.
  • 4.2 [count noun] A set order of words; a formula: a form of words
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    • The Rev Chris Swift, a parent himself, agonised over a form of words for a situation he hadn't faced before.
    • I suspect this form of expression is a local custom for elderly people to ward off the envy of jealous gods.
    • Although no particular form of words is necessary the waiver must be express.
  • 6chiefly British A class or year in a school, usually given a specifying number: the fifth form
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    • I am a supply teacher and I have been for the past nine years teaching in primary schools, high schools, sixth forms and colleges.
    • It plans to do this by reducing four of its year groups from three forms per year to two forms by merging the classes.
    • I took her straight back to see her form tutor and they promised to do something about it.
    class, year, school group, tutor group, set, stream, band; North American grade
  • 7 [mass noun] The state of a sports player or team with regard to their current standard of play: they are one of the best teams around on current form
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    • Based on the two teams' current form, today's encounter looks set to be close fought and could go either way.
    • On current domestic form, Liverpool might not see another Champions League night like this for a very long time to come.
    • Their first league victory of the season will surely not be far away with David Bentley in his current form.
    fitness, physical fitness, condition, fettle, shape, trim, health, state of health
    British informal nick
  • 7.1Details of previous performances by a racehorse or greyhound: an interested bystander studying the form
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    • For example, when the handicapper allots a weight to a horse for the Grand National, he will look at its previous form.
    • With, of course, no previous form to go on, the weight of money tends to offer significant clues to the outcome.
    • As ladies in elaborate hats paraded and gentlemen in top hat and tails studied form, the royals rode in the traditional Ascot carriage procession.
  • 7.2A person’s mood and state of health: she seemed to be on good form
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    • That morning Christine had been on great form but at 8pm her mood changed dramatically.
    • I only spoke to Glenn three weeks ago and he was in fine form and looking forward to the future.
    • And then yesterday I retired to my sickbed, feeling decidedly under the weather, and am still not on top form today.
  • 7.3British informal A criminal record: they both had form
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    • Paranoid perhaps, but the government does have previous form on this matter.
    • In case you are tempted to believe a word of this disclaimer, remember at Mr Gonzalez has previous form.
    • I think Warne'd get the benefit of the doubt, except he's got form.
    a criminal record, a police record, previous convictions, a history of crime
    informal previous
  • 8British A long bench without a back.
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    • The shelter inside was totally dark and one had to grope to find a place to sit on the backless wooden forms.
    • The original seats were old wooden forms which could be pushed back against the wall.
    • It was a truck with a projector in the back that they'd back up to the hall, open a flap in the wall and the projector would poke through that. We'd sit on forms watching cowboy movies, I think cowboy movies was all they showed!
    bench, long seat, pew, settle, stall
  • 9 Printing , chiefly US variant spelling of forme.
  • 10British A hare’s lair.
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    • Hares lie overnight in ‘forms’, which are a kind of above-ground nest.
  • 11 another term for shuttering.
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    • A slab foundation is made by building wooden forms and pouring the concrete into these forms.
    • The quality of this work depends not on the mix of the material itself, but rather on the formwork into which the concrete is poured. Well crafted, watertight wooden forms are essential.


[with object] Back to top  
  • 2Make or be made into a specific shape or form: [with object]: form the dough into balls [no object]: his features formed into a smile of pleasure
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    • Bricks are made from clay and other materials which are formed into shapes then fired in a kiln to make them strong and durable.
    • The mixture is heated over a low fire, then formed into shape and cooled.
    • The light surrounded the boy, and formed into the shape of a Chinese dragon.
  • 2.1 (be formed) Have a specified shape: her body was slight and flawlessly formed
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    • The chapel was small but perfectly formed, constructed like a miniature church.
    • The UK, small but perfectly formed is a great place to be a mountain biker.
    • The hands themselves were beautifully formed, so white they seemed carved of alabaster.
  • 2.2 (form people/things up or form up) chiefly Military Bring or be brought into a certain formation: Mortimer formed up his troops for the march
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    • The Austrians were formed up in a strong position 4 miles wide, in an area of rolling country, with the village of Leuthen at their centre, and their flanks protected by marshy ground.
    • He quickly formed his army up to meet an attack, but his crossbowmen were still on the other side of the river.
    • The defenders formed up in a V-shaped formation.
  • 2.3Influence (something abstract): the role of the news media in forming public opinion
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    • This leads us to another point in the importance of the legends and folklore in forming and shaping a nation's character.
    • Nevertheless, polls are influential in forming public opinion and attitudes.
    • The feminist view of useless men may be extreme, but it has been hugely influential. For Gloria Steinem, who grew up with an alcoholic father, it formed her character and launched an entire movement.
    develop, mould, shape, train, teach, instruct, educate, school, tutor, coach, groom, drill, discipline, prime, prepare, guide, direct, inform, verse, enlighten, inculcate, indoctrinate, edify, cultivate, improve, better, uplift, elevate


in (or chiefly British on) form

(Of a sports player or team) playing or performing well.
More example sentences
  • He is very fast and skillful, and when on form he is the best player in the team.
  • She went out in the second round of the women's doubles but hopes to be back on form for this month's Commonwealth Games.
  • Gough said all of England's players needed to be in form by the start of the Test series in July.

off (or out of) form

(Of a sports player or team) not playing or performing well.
More example sentences
  • Brazil, clear favourites to retain the World Cup in Germany this summer, have several key players out of form and under fire from the media.
  • England's pre-match selection was suspect, with Iain Balshaw chosen at full-back despite being completely out of form.
  • Both clubs have tons of good players but it only takes a couple to be off form and this could be decisive.



More example sentences
  • The copper-free alloys of the series have many desirable characteristics: moderate-to-high strength, excellent toughness, and good workability, formability, and weldability.
  • These primary crystals do not have a substantial effect on strength but affect appreciably the formability, fatigue resistance and surface finish.
  • The low carbon steel, of course, has excellent formability.


More example sentences
  • These steels possess an extraordinary combination of ultra-high-strength and fracture toughness and at the same time are formable, weldable, and easy to heat-treat.
  • For most dual phase steels, and also for highly formable interstitial free steels, the stress-strain curves do not conform to the Ludwig's equation.
  • The composites are formable with normal aluminum metal-working techniques and equipment at warm working temperatures.


Middle English: from Old French forme (noun), fo(u)rmer (verb, from Latin formare 'to form'), both based on Latin forma 'a mould or form'.

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Word of the day coloratura
Pronunciation: ˌkələrəˈto͝orə
elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody