from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. Rigorous or excessive adherence to recognized forms, as in religion or art.
- n. An instance of rigorous or excessive adherence to recognized forms.
- n. A method of aesthetic analysis that emphasizes structural elements and artistic techniques rather than content, especially in literary works.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. Strict adherence to a given form of conduct, practice etc.
- n. One of several alternative computational paradigms for a given theory.
- n. An approach to interpretation and/or evaluation focused on the (usually linguistic) structure of a literary work rather than on the contexts of its origin or reception.
- n. The tendency to elevate formal above expressive value in music, as in serialism.
- n. A particular mathematical or scientific theory or description of a given state or effect.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. The practice or the doctrine of strict adherence to, or dependence on, external forms, esp. in matters of religion.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. The character of being formal; strict adherence to or observance of prescribed or recognized form, rule, style, etiquette, or the like; excessive attachment to conventional usage, or (especially in religion) to external forms and observances; hence, artificiality or cold stiffness of manner or behavior: as, judicial formalism; formalism in art; the formalism of pedantry or of court life; cold formalism in public worship.
- n. In philos.: The system which denies the existence of matter and recognizes form only; phenomenal idealism.
- n. A belief in the sufficiency of formal logic, especially of the traditional syllogistic, for the purposes of human thought.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. (philosophy) the philosophical theory that formal (logical or mathematical) statements have no meaning but that its symbols (regarded as physical entities) exhibit a form that has useful applications
- n. the doctrine that formal structure rather than content is what should be represented
- n. the practice of scrupulous adherence to prescribed or external forms
From formal + -ism. (Wiktionary)