Definition of formative in English:



  • 1Serving to form something, especially having a profound influence on a person's development.

    ‘his formative years’
    • ‘My father poured vast amounts of love and energy into me during my most formative years.’
    • ‘During the first three months of pregnancy, the foetus is in a formative stage.’
    • ‘Trade and commerce have had a formative influence on America from the Colonial Era onward.’
    • ‘Many have been behind bars for years and have spent the formative period of their life there.’
    • ‘I am sure that the school was a formative influence on both of us.’
    • ‘In both cases, learning to read was one of the great formative experiences of their lives.’
    • ‘But to begin with, let's listen to her thesis about the history of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - and some of the formative influences in its development.’
    • ‘In this formative period, American theater was far more exciting than American plays.’
    • ‘Many of our older members were a part of AORN in its formative years.’
    • ‘Everyone who knows Brown concurs in one thing - that his formative influence was his background, and in particular his late father John, a devoutly religious man and a minister in the Church of Scotland.’
    • ‘Worship must be the central and formative experience in the life of the congregation.’
    • ‘He recalls in bright detail the books, teachers and mentors who served as formative influences in his intellectual development.’
    • ‘However, Ruby's insightful arguments and the formative influence of his work mark this collection as one that merits close attention from anthropologists and filmmakers alike.’
    • ‘But they have a formative influence in Hollywood, the likes of which are rarely found outside Hollywood, whose products radically shape society.’
    • ‘People owe a good deal to their parents and to their early formative years.’
    • ‘His mother was a formative influence, since he did not attend school.’
    • ‘The development proposal is at a formative stage and no planning request has been submitted.’
    • ‘The question is presumably designed to give us an indication of the artist's earliest formative influences, and so the answers given are invariably - suspiciously - classics.’
    • ‘If you like punk enough to get beyond the album cover and the rating and start reading this, you'll know that Pennywise are one of the formative bands of the influential West Coast scene.’
    • ‘In 1956 the young Wilson published The Outsider, a study of creativity arguing that psychological alienation is one of the most formative influences on Western culture.’
    developmental, developing, growing, mouldable, malleable, impressionable, susceptible
    determining, controlling, influential, guiding, decisive, forming, shaping, moulding, determinative
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Relating to a person's development.
      ‘a formative assessment’
      • ‘The goal of formative assessment is to help the student learn, not to compare the student to others; most particularly, its goal is not to place labels on students.’
      • ‘However, the task of summative assessment for external purposes remains quite different from the task of formative assessment to monitor and improve progress.’
      • ‘Appraisal is primarily a formative assessment, and should not be used as a regulatory instrument.’
      • ‘Excellent formative assessment is about talking while carefully listening, and about carefully listening while talking - at the very least, feeling genuinely able to talk.’
      • ‘A critical task is to help the learner in constructing a personal learning plan, a process that entails formative appraisal and rigorous assessment of educational needs.’
      • ‘Another example of formative assessment is having students write a business letter to King Louis XVI from the perspective of a member of the Third Estate in France prior to the Revolution.’
      • ‘In the progress of an effective peer learning program, goals, tasks, and interactions form a reciprocity loop, with formative assessment enabling transition from one to the other.’
      • ‘This information could be used to provide formative assessment to the individual students prior to progression.’
      • ‘With this type of assessment administration, detailed formative feedback on a single test or trends in performance can be provided to students to guide their subsequent learning.’
      • ‘The formative collaborative group assessment described in this paper is a very useful additional assessment tool.’
      • ‘The system for portfolio development described in the syllabus reflects periodic formative assessment, but thus far it has been difficult to adhere to the timing of this system.’
      • ‘In addition, the shift from a teacher-centered to a learner-centered educational paradigm creates a need for formative classroom assessment.’
      • ‘The specific type of rating form to be used, therefore, depends at least partially on whether the purpose of the assessment includes formative assessment.’
      • ‘These assessments can be formative or summative in nature.’
      • ‘Formative evaluation was used to refine program elements and establish feasibility and acceptability.’
      • ‘Timing of the administration of formative assessment relative to major assignments in the course is important.’
      • ‘The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that teachers need to analyze their own student ratings in order to increase the evaluations' effectiveness as a formative assessment tool.’
      • ‘Finally, formative student assessment is not addressed in this plan.’
      • ‘Researchers developed the intervention based on formative research needs assessment with the target audience.’
      • ‘While feedback generally originates from a teacher, learners can also play an important role in formative assessment through self-evaluation.’
    2. 1.2Linguistics Denoting or relating to any of the smallest meaningful units that are used to form words in a language, typically combining forms and inflections.


  • A formative element.

    • ‘All possible formatives are separated from the stem and compared against a closed list.’
    • ‘Paradigms and different formatives have been presented over and over again as well as word formation means.’
    • ‘Do consumers perceive new ‘e’ and ‘i- ‘formatives as ready-made brand names or as new public domain terms?’’
    • ‘The attachments of suffixes in the formatives may be seen here.’
    • ‘Different formatives may be customary depending on the verb from which the action nominal derives.’


Late 15th century: from Old French formatif, -ive or medieval Latin formativus, from Latin formare to form (see form).