Definition of formula in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈfɔːmjʊlə/


1 (plural formulas or formulae /ˈfɔːmjʊliː/) A mathematical relationship or rule expressed in symbols: the formula for the capacitance of a spherical capacitor
More example sentences
  • He gave the well-known formula for the Fibonacci numbers
  • Its 92 problems illustrate the formula for summing an arithmetic progression.
  • Using NA as the total number of links in the network and N as the total number of persons, here is a mathematical formula for density.
1.1 (also chemical formula) A set of chemical symbols showing the elements present in a compound and their relative proportions.
Example sentences
  • If a pure element is present the chemical formula is merely the chemical symbol for the element.
  • Nitric oxide (sometimes called nitrogen monoxide) has the chemical formula NO.
  • The actual formula of the ionic compound (and the number of cations and anions) will thus depend on the relative charges of the anion and cation.
2 (plural formulas) A method or procedure for achieving something: the forlorn hope of finding a peace formula
More example sentences
  • He took the lead in prescribing a formula for peace and imposing national reconciliation.
  • But Maharishi has come up with a formula for world peace, which he believes can be achieved with large groups of meditators.
  • Zingerman's provides a valuable example of a formula for achieving just that.
recipe, prescription, blueprint, plan, method, procedure, technique, system;
modus operandi, mechanism, convention, ritual
2.1A list of ingredients with which something is made: a blend of fifteen whiskies compiled to a secret formula
More example sentences
  • Think of a screen as a formula or recipe of ingredients used to guide computer software to select a batch of good stock picks.
  • An open formula lists the percentage or amount per ton of all ingredients in the complete feed, premixes, or supplements.
  • He checked the formulas and double-checked the ingredients.
2.2A formulation: an original coal tar formula that helps prevent dandruff
More example sentences
  • Avoid anything involving animal droppings and beware of expensive herbal creams and vitamin formulas which are more likely to lighten your wallet than increase your hair count.
  • The flower wax enriched formulas help capture moisture and prevent color from slipping and sliding throughout the day.
  • Pills, powders, caplets, tablets, tinctures, oils and herb formulas can aid good health, but only if they're supplemental to a good diet.
preparation, concoction, mixture, compound, creation, substance;
cream, lotion, liquid, solution, potion, application, paste
2.3 [mass noun] (also formula milk) A baby’s liquid food based on cow’s milk or soya protein, given as a substitute for breast milk: she put two bottles of formula in the fridge
More example sentences
  • Breast milk or formula milk provides all the nutrition that babies need for the first six months.
  • Although babies under twelve months should not be given cow's milk without first consulting your doctor, most formula milk is based on cow's milk.
  • You may also like to try baby rice, which can be made up using breast or formula milk.
3 (plural formulas) A set form of words, especially one used in particular contexts or as a conventional usage: polite formulas and stock phrases a legal formula
More example sentences
  • Ideas (in the usual sense of the word) are conventional expressions or formulas.
  • We profess our faith not merely in a formula of words, but rather in the realities to which those words refer.
  • The challenge for the SPC was to find a formula of words to be introduced into the Development Plan recognising the guidelines while at the same time securing the best result for the county.
form of words, set expression, phrase, saying, aphorism;
code, set of words, set of symbols
rare formulary
3.1A rule or style followed mechanically: [as modifier]: one of those formula tunes
More example sentences
  • It's a show about cops and criminals, but it doesn't follow any genre formulas.
  • The campaign is following the standard formula.
  • The key to a feel-good movie like this succeeding has very little to do with the overall plot, which must follow certain time-honored formulas.
3.2A stock epithet, phrase, or line repeated for various effects, especially in epic poetry.
Example sentences
  • In such works as the Homeric epics, stock formulas served to maintain the rhythm of the verse and were mnemonically useful for performers and listeners alike.
  • Mostly they were sung by choirs of trained singers who chanted the texts to flexible formulas that were repeated for each verse.
  • The abandonment of old formulas and standard melodic procedures is nowhere more evident than in the new rhymed Offices of the 12th century and later.
4(Usually followed by a numeral) a classification of racing car, especially by the engine capacity: formula two
More example sentences
  • Scott passed Barnard on the inside and his years of experience in the V8 formula paid off as he began to open his lead and pick his way through the back markers with consummate skill.
  • It's the best idea, so we are in favour of considering a formula with a 2.4 V8 in the future, and also to consider how to extend engine life.


The word formula has two possible plural forms, formulae and formulas. The traditional distinction is that formulas should be used in general writing and formulae in mathematical and scientific contexts, but analysis of the Oxford English Corpus shows that formulas is increasingly the dominant form in both technical and general uses.


Early 17th century (in the sense 'fixed form of words'): from Latin, diminutive of forma 'shape, mould'.

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Line breaks: for|mula

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