• Form


    • UK IPA: /fɔːm/
    • US IPA: /fɔɹm/
    • Rhymes: -ɔː(r)m

    Alternative forms


    From Middle English forme ("shape, figure, manner, bench, frame, seat, condition, agreement, etc."), from Old French forme, from Latin forma ("shape, figure, image, outline, plan, mold, frame, case, etc., manner, sort, kind, etc.")

    Full definition of form



    (plural forms)
    1. (physical) To do with shape.
      1. The shape or visible structure of a thing or person.
        • 1699, William Temple, Heads designed for an essay on conversationsStudy gives strength to the mind; conversation, grace: the first apt to give stiffness, the other suppleness: one gives substance and form to the statue, the other polishes it.
        • 1892, James Yoxall, The Lonely Pyramid Chapter 5, The desert storm was riding in its strength; the travellers lay beneath the mastery of the fell simoom....Roaring, leaping, pouncing, the tempest raged about the wanderers, drowning and blotting out their forms with sandy spume.
        • 2013-05-10, Audrey Garric, Urban canopies let nature bloom, As towns continue to grow, replanting vegetation has become a form of urban utopia and green roofs are spreading fast. Last year 1m square metres of plant-covered roofing was built in France, as much as in the US, and 10 times more than in Germany, the pioneer in this field.
      2. A thing that gives shape to other things as in a mold.
      3. Characteristics not involving atomic components.
      4. (dated) A long bench with no back.
        • 1981, GB Edwards, The Book of Ebenezer Le Page, New York 2007, p. 10:I can see the old schoolroom yet: the broken-down desks and the worn-out forms with knots in that got stuck into your backside ...
        • 2010, Stephen Fry, The Fry Chronicles: An Autobiography:The prefect grabbed me by the shoulders and steered me down a passageway, and down another and finally through a door that led into a long, low dining-room crowded with loudly breakfasting boys sitting on long, shiny oak forms, as benches used to be called.
      5. (fine arts) The boundary line of a material object. In painting, more generally, the human body.
      6. (crystallography) The combination of planes included under a general crystallographic symbol. It is not necessarily a closed solid.
      7. (social) To do with structure or procedure.
        1. An order of doing things, as in religious ritual.
        2. Established method of expression or practice; fixed way of proceeding; conventional or stated scheme; formula.
          • John Dryden (1631-1700)Those whom form of laws
            Condemned to die.
        3. Constitution; mode of construction, organization, etc.; system.
          a republican form of government
        4. Show without substance; empty, outside appearance; vain, trivial, or conventional ceremony; conventionality; formality.
          a matter of mere form
          • William Shakespeare (1564-1616)Though well we may not pass upon his life
            Without the form of justice.
        5. (archaic) A class or rank in society.
        6. (UK) A criminal record; loosely, past history (in a given area).
          • 2011, Jane Martinson, The Guardian, 4 May 2011:It's fair to say she has form on this: she has criticised David Cameron's proposal to create all-women shortlists for prospective MPs, tried to ban women wearing high heels at work as the resulting pain made them take time off work, and tried to reduce the point at which an abortion can take place from 24 to 21 weeks.
        7. (education) Level.
          1. (UK, education) A class or year of students (often preceded by an ordinal number to specify the year, as in sixth form).
            • 1928, George Bickerstaff, The mayor, and other folkOne other day after afternoon school, Mr. Percival came behind me and put his hand on me. "Let me see, what's your name? Which form are you in?..."
            • 1976, Ronald King, School and college: studies of post-sixteen educationFrom the sixth form will come the scholars and the administrators.
          2. (UK) Grade (level of pre-collegiate education).
        8. A blank document or template to be filled in by the user.
          To apply for the position, complete the application form.
        9. (grammar) A grouping of words which maintain grammatical context in different usages; the particular shape or structure of a word or part of speech.
          participial forms;  verb forms
        10. The den or home of a hare.
        11. (computing, programming) A window or dialogue box.
          • 1998, Gary Cornell, Visual Basic 6 from the ground up (page 426)While it is quite amazing how much one can do with Visual Basic with the code attached to a single form...
          • Neil Smyth, C# EssentialsThroughout this chapter we will work with a form in a new project.
        12. (biology) An infraspecific rank.
        13. (printing, dated) The type or other matter from which an impression is to be taken, arranged and secured in a chase.
        14. (geometry) A quantic.


    • (shape)
      • figure, used when discussing people, not animals
      • shape, used on animals and on persons
    • (blank document) formular
    • (pre-collegiate level) grade
    • (biology) f.


    1. (transitive) To give shape or visible structure to (a thing or person).
      When you kids form a straight line I'll hand out the lollies.
      • 2013, William E. Conner, An Acoustic Arms Race, Earless ghost swift moths become “invisible” to echolocating bats by forming mating clusters close (less than half a meter) above vegetation and effectively blending into the clutter of echoes that the bat receives from the leaves and stems around them.
    2. (intransitive) To take shape.
      When icicles start to form on the eaves you know the roads will be icy.
      • 2013, Stephen P. Lownie, David M. Pelz, Stents to Prevent Stroke, As we age, the major arteries of our bodies frequently become thickened with plaque, a fatty material with an oatmeal-like consistency that builds up along the inner lining of blood vessels. The reason plaque forms isn’t entirely known, but it seems to be related to high levels of cholesterol inducing an inflammatory response, which can also attract and trap more cellular debris over time.
    3. (transitive, linguistics) To create (a word) by inflection or derivation.
      By adding "-ness", you can form a noun from an adjective.
    4. (transitive) To constitute, to compose, to make up.
      Teenagers form the bulk of extreme traffic offenders.
      • Edmund Burke (1729-1797)the diplomatic politicians...who formed by far the majority
      • 1879, Richard Jefferies, The Amateur Poacher Chapter 1, But then I had the massive flintlock by me for protection. ¶...The linen-press and a chest on the top of it formed, however, a very good gun-carriage; and, thus mounted, aim could be taken out of the window at the old mare feeding in the meadow below by the brook,....
      • 1948 May, Stanley Pashko, “The Biggest Family”, in Boys' Life, Volume 38, Number 5, Boy Scouts of America, ISSN 0006-8608, page 10:Insects form the biggest family group in nature's kingdom, and also the oldest.
    5. To mould or model by instruction or discipline.
      Singing in a choir helps to form a child's sociality.
      • Alexander Pope (1688-1744)'Tis education forms the common mind.
      • John Dryden (1631-1700)Thus formed for speed, he challenges the wind.
    6. To provide (a hare) with a form.
      • Michael Drayton (1563-1631)The melancholy hare is formed in brakes and briers.

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