Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The quality or condition of being formal.
  • n. Rigorous or ceremonious adherence to established forms, rules, or customs.
  • n. An established form, rule, or custom, especially one followed merely for the sake of procedure or decorum.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The state of being formal.
  • n. Something said or done as a matter of form.
  • n. A customary ritual without new or unique meaning.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The condition or quality of being formal, strictly ceremonious, precise, etc.
  • n. Form without substance.
  • n. Compliance with formal or conventional rules; ceremony; conventionality.
  • n. An established order; conventional rule of procedure; usual method; habitual mode.
  • n. The dress prescribed for any body of men, academical, municipal, or sacerdotal.
  • n. That which is formal; the formal part.
  • n. The quality which makes a thing what it is; essence.
  • n. The manner in which a thing is conceived or constituted by an act of human thinking; the result of such an act.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The condition or quality of being formal; specifically, rigid or undue observance of forms or established rules, as in style, conduct, or procedure; especially, the sacrifice of substance or spirit to form; conventionality.
  • n. The result of exclusive attention to the rules of art, without life or spontaneity.
  • n. An established order; a rule of proceeding; a formal mode or method: as, the formalities of judicial process; formalities of law.
  • n. Validity; binding force.
  • n. Customary behavior or dress, or customary ceremony; ceremonial.
  • n. In philosophy, external appearance; formal part.
  • n. In the philosophy of Duns Scotus, a formal element of being; a quidditative ens, or anything belonging thereto except an intrinsic mode.
  • n. The character of the formal in the Kantian sense: universality and necessity.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. compliance with formal rules
  • n. a requirement of etiquette or custom
  • n. a manner that strictly observes all forms and ceremonies

Etymologies

formal +‎ -ity (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • This isn't so much about hospitality, as about keeping a certain formality and mystique in the home for our own families, so that it is a place of respect and sentiment, rather than some dropping off place like anywhere else.

    The Formal Home

  • In the end, I was shown that it was not nice at all, to let boorish people break down the formality of the home, because formality is more than just using a fork.

    The Formal Home

  • Cloaking himself in formality he bowed slightly before addressing Kara in an aside.

    New BSG fiction

  • I'm as casual as the next person, usually more, but when formality is the order of the day I easily switch gears.

    Uptight About Usted

  • "If your wish were carried out, we should be covering our faces all the time – if that formality is needed in giving thanks."

    Melbourne House

  • They must not use it in formality, according to custom, to those they met on the way, because they must use it with solemnity to those whose houses they entered into: "Salute no man by the way in compliment, but to those into whose house ye enter, say, Peace be to you, with seriousness and in reality; for this is intended to be more than a compliment."

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume V (Matthew to John)

  • A mere formality, that is, until the shock of the Iowa caucuses.

    Marc Kusnetz: Lies and Consequences

  • But then the idea of formality and the weakest conception of the modal force of logical truths uncontroversially imply that the original formula is not logically true.

    Logical Truth

  • Y. (The reader can find more information on the idea of formality in the entry on logical consequence.)

    Propositional Consequence Relations and Algebraic Logic

  • To caper and shout is to express oneself, yet is it comfortless; but introduce the idea of formality, and in dance and song you may find satisfying delight.

    Art

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