Pronunciation: (fôr'mul),[key] —adj. 1. being in accordance with the usual requirements, customs, etc.; conventional: to pay one's formal respects. 2. marked by form or ceremony: a formal occasion. 3. designed for wear or use at occasions or events marked by elaborate ceremony or prescribed social observance: The formal attire included tuxedos and full-length gowns. 4. requiring a type of dress suitable for such occasions: a formal dance. 5. observant of conventional requirements of behavior, procedure, etc., as persons; ceremonious.
6. excessively ceremonious: a manner that was formal and austere. 7. being a matter of form only; perfunctory: We expected more than just formal courtesy. 8. made or done in accordance with procedures that ensure validity: a formal authorization. 9. of, pertaining to, or emphasizing the organization or composition of the constituent elements in a work of art perceived separately from its subject matter: a formal approach to painting; the formal structure of a poem. 10. being in accordance with prescribed or customary forms: a formal siege. 11. Theat.(of a stage setting) generalized and simplified in design, esp. of architectural elements, and serving as a permanent set for a play irrespective of changes in location.
12. acquired in school; academic: He had little formal training in economics. 13. symmetrical or highly organized: a formal garden. 14. of, reflecting, or noting a usage of language in which syntax, pronunciation, etc., adhere to traditional standards of correctness and usage is characterized by the absence of casual, contracted, and colloquial forms: The paper was written in formal English. 15. Philos. a. pertaining to form.
b. Aristotelianism.not material; essential.
16. Logic.See formal logic. 17. pertaining to the form, shape, or mode of a thing, esp. as distinguished from the substance: formal writing, bereft of all personality. 18. being such merely in appearance or name; nominal: a formal head of the government having no actual powers. 19. Math. a. (of a proof) in strict logical form with a justification for every step.
b. (of a calculation) correct in form; made with strict justification for every step.
c. (of a calculation, derivation, representation, or the like) of or pertaining to manipulation of symbols without regard to their meaning.
—n. 1. a dance, ball, or other social occasion that requires formalwear.
2. an evening gown.
—adv. in formal attire: We're supposed to go formal.