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

  • adj. Forming or capable of forming.
  • adj. Susceptible to transformation by growth and development.
  • adj. Biology Capable of producing new cells or tissue.
  • adj. Of or relating to formation, growth, or development: the formative stages of a plot.
  • adj. Linguistics Relating to the formation or inflection of words.
  • n. Grammar A derivational or inflectional affix.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of or pertaining to the formation and subsequent growth of something.
  • adj. Capable of forming something.
  • adj. Capable of producing new tissue.
  • adj. Pertaining to the inflection of words.
  • n. A language unit that has morphological function.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Giving form; having the power of giving form; plastic.
  • adj. Serving to form; derivative; not radical.
  • adj. Capable of growth and development; germinal.
  • n. That which serves merely to give form, and is no part of the radical, as the prefix or the termination of a word.
  • n. A word formed in accordance with some rule or usage, as from a root.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Giving form or shape; having the power of giving form; plastic; shaping; molding; determining: as, the formative yolk of an egg, which changes into an embryo; a formative process.
  • Pertaining to formation or development; related to the fixation of or growth into form or order: as, the formative period of youth or of a nation; formative experiments.
  • In grammar, serving to form; determining grammatical form or character as a part of speech or derivative; inflectional: as, a formative termination.
  • n. In grammar, a formative element of a word; that which serves to give grammatical form; an addition to or modification of a root or crude form, giving it special character.

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

  • n. minimal language unit that has a syntactic (or morphological) function
  • adj. forming or capable of forming or molding or fashioning
  • adj. capable of forming new cells and tissues


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • What ` s keeping them watching is, in fact, what we call the formative features.

    CNN Transcript May 31, 2007

  • Coaching in formative years is vital and it is for this reason that I have believed fervently for years that our priorities in this regard have been wrong, the inverse of how it should be, where the best coaches (which does not necessarily mean the most qualified) concentrate on juniors in their early teens, when bodies, muscle memory and brains are receptive to change, rather than on older groups as a hierarchical thing.

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  • Even though I have found it virtually impossible to 'change' somebodies morals after a certain formative period in their lives.

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  • Nor yet did Eastlake confine himself to the external forms of art and nature; he then laid the foundation of that intimate knowledge of the arts, be they called formative, architectural, plastic, or pictorial, the able elucidation of which renders his writings so valuable.

    The International Magazine, Volume 2, No. 2, January, 1851

  • During the last quarter of a century the Conference has adopted 67 conventions or labour treaties, and 66 recommendations, which constitute an international labour code which has been for two decades one of the main formative influences upon the development of social legislation in many countries.

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  • —The yolk comprises (1) the cytoplasm of the ordinary animal cell with its spongioplasm and hyaloplasm; this is frequently termed the formative yolk; (2) the nutritive yolk or deutoplasm, which consists of numerous rounded granules of fatty and albuminoid substances imbedded in the cytoplasm.

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  • Here's an online (e.g. superquick-accessible) resource where I pilfered the midterm formative assessment logistics.

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  • Before Messrs. Wright and Ayers, though, there was "Frank," the name Obama gives in his memoirs to a man he describes as a formative influence during his early years in Hawaii.

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  • Ironically, despite the travails of all concerned in Ecuador, this project, even though still formative is more likely to be able to gain momentum than many other projects in many other countries, including those more advanced on the studies’ front.

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  • I recall the formative discipline of walking regularly along Bingham Road to Sunday Mass and later, often, to daily Mass; but I also remember the sadness of my brother's funeral and the funerals of my parents which I celebrated in the same Church.

    To God who gave joy to my youth


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  • Archaeologically used to describe the emergence of a new cultural tradition.

    November 25, 2007