Definition of formally in English:



  • 1In accordance with convention or etiquette.

    ‘he was formally attired’
    • ‘He was formally attired in brown breeches and a white silk shirt accompanied by a deep blue waistcoat.’
    • ‘Today's students also appear more formally dressed and conservative-looking these days.’
    • ‘Paired with a tie, a pocket square tends to make a man look more formally attired.’
    • ‘The room's tables, nevertheless, slowly filled with students, many clothed formally in dresses, suits and ties.’
    • ‘You were rather formally attired, wearing a velvet dress that would have been appropriate for a concert stage.’
    • ‘He apologised for not wearing a suit, but quickly made it clear that he was more formally attired than his normal dress of a T-shirt.’
    • ‘I think that the reason he took the trouble to dress formally is because he had a great regard for etiquette.’
    • ‘Should the MPs dress formally and meet indoors, showing that they were a professional, hard-working coalition?’
    • ‘If you are doing something in a formal manner, you are behaving formally; but if you previously behaved differently, you did so formerly.’
    • ‘When I'm referring to it and to its predecessors more formally I use the term ‘notebook’.’
  • 2Officially.

    ‘the Mayor will formally open the new Railway Centre’
    • ‘Early in 1990, our institute formally opened to foreign volunteers.’
    • ‘He added the minister had formally approved the inquiry.’
    • ‘But those countries have not formally passed laws that contradict the convention.’
    • ‘This decision was formally incorporated in the Convention by amendment the following year.’
    • ‘The MP was in town to formally open the station yesterday following the completion of a £9 million project.’
    • ‘The case was not formally opened and details of the incident will be revealed at the next hearing.’
    • ‘The mound and the historic mosaic are due to be formally opened in July.’
    • ‘The new prime minister-designate is to formally become prime minister after obtaining parliamentary endorsement.’
    • ‘The judge noted the respondent's objection to reliance on this passage but does not appear to have formally ruled on it.’
    • ‘The UK's ratification of the convention formally takes effect next month.’
    • ‘To date no one has been formally charged in the case.’
    • ‘The Commission said that, of the 19 alleged breaches, a case had been formally opened for 14 and five were still at the enquiries stage.’
    • ‘At present most services are only open to men formally charged with assault.’
    • ‘The building will not formally be opened for another few weeks but the organisers of last night's premiere managed to hire it out for the occasion.’
    • ‘It is not clear whether judgment was formally entered in accordance with the terms of settlement.’
    • ‘The coroner will formally open and adjourn the inquest today in Salisbury.’
    • ‘Stalling for two days in hopes that the British fleet might appear, he formally surrendered on 19 October.’
    • ‘In December of 1946, a grand jury was convened to decide formally whether to charge the suspects and try them.’
    • ‘If we opened the border more formally, many more people would come.’
    • ‘The prime minister formally declared the country to be suffering from serious famine.’
  • 3[sentence adverb] In outward form or appearance.

    ‘formally, ministers are responsible to the monarch’
    • ‘The decision to dissolve Parliament or appoint Cabinet ministers is formally exercised by the monarch, who acts on the Prime Minister's advice.’
    • ‘On the other hand, the statute may upon its true construction merely require an act which appears formally valid and has not been quashed by judicial review.’
    1. 3.1In terms of form or structure.
      ‘formally complex types of text’
      • ‘Sophocles' play was for Aristotle an exemplary tragedy, both formally, in terms of unity of action, and in its tragic story.’
      • ‘In each of the 12 sonatas the first movement is the more formally complex and more classical of the two.’
      • ‘The permanent element, with its symbolic entrance bridge and pylon, proclaimed itself structurally and formally by a group of six roof towers.’
      • ‘Single forms are formally complete and tonally self-contained and are not divisible into smaller units.’
      • ‘The term alkyl refers to the hydrocarbon functional group derived formally by the loss of a hydrogen atom from the alkane.’
      • ‘All the movements spring from their own generative musical cell, and elaborate that germ into a formally complete and rounded whole.’
      • ‘This is apparent both formally in the materials of the sculpture and in terms of the testimonies she has collected.’