Definition of form in English:



  • 1The visible shape or configuration of something.

    ‘the form, color, and texture of the tree’
    • ‘Crop circles don't just look pretty they express fundamental geometric forms.’
    • ‘The powerful roots of the oak demonstrate an earthly reflection of the power of lightning, mirroring its shape and form.’
    • ‘They come in a wonderful variety of shapes, forms and colours.’
    • ‘The earliest item is a Viking bronze sword pommel from the late tenth century incised with diamond shapes and simplified animal forms.’
    • ‘A garden that is neglected does not so much cease to bear fruit, as it loses its shape and form.’
    • ‘Both the milk teeth and the permanent teeth give the face its shape and form.’
    • ‘His latest work concentrates on geometric forms, especially from Venetian floor designs.’
    • ‘This urban contemporary collection keeps things in perspective with simple forms, clean lines and subtle shapes.’
    • ‘One of the nicest seasons of the year is autumn and it reflects itself in many shapes, colours and forms.’
    • ‘The exploration of the deployment of pure geometric forms is an ongoing theme in Don Watson's work.’
    • ‘It is the rare gardener who is not smitten by their array of brilliant colors and graceful forms.’
    • ‘The shape and form of the bungalow constantly underwent change and adaptation out of functional necessity.’
    • ‘In 1915 - 16 she did a series of abstract drawings and watercolours that evoked the natural world in simple forms and vivid colours.’
    • ‘The building is organised as a series of layers, allowing it to be read as several slender parallel forms.’
    • ‘Observing the variety of colour, form and aroma of summer flowers can enhance outdoor relaxation.’
    • ‘Her home office blends contemporary and geometric shapes with organic forms.’
    • ‘The artist has spent her career exploring abstract shapes and forms, creating paintings that reveal many different kinds of visual sensations.’
    • ‘A person's life in one sense is like a work of art, blending colors, tones, lines, and forms.’
    • ‘Cement has been slapped on and ugly box-shaped structures built abutting the graceful forms of the ancient temples.’
    • ‘Pot-grown orchids provide a stunning indoor display, with a great variety of colour and form.’
    shape, configuration, formation, conformation, structure, Construction, arrangement, disposition, appearance, outward appearance, outward form, exterior
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    1. 1.1Arrangement of parts; shape.
      ‘the entities underlying physical form’
      • ‘Stories appeal to people because they impose some sort of form and structure on a world that has none.’
      • ‘Standing at the end of the pond, the carefully manicured view gives the semblance of natural form and perfect scale.’
      • ‘He calculated the ideas and gathered them together, he gave my ideas some sort of structure and form.’
      • ‘During the week my days had lost all form, structure and familiarity.’
      • ‘Undoubtedly the subject will now be well lit, but you have also removed shape and form from the photograph.’
      • ‘We must look at their effects on the structure and form of the city and how it is designed.’
    2. 1.2The body or shape of a person or thing.
      ‘his eyes scanned her slender form’
      • ‘His patched clothes hung loosely about his bony form.’
      • ‘Just the other night, I must have passed by the sleeping forms of at least 20 people on Park Avenue.’
      • ‘Suddenly, they noticed the form of an animal ahead, leaning down to drink.’
      • ‘He lifted her small, lifeless form into his arms.’
      • ‘I walked up the stairs and glanced back at his darkened form in the garden.’
      • ‘I tucked Claire in, sitting beside her sleeping form and stroking back her light hair from her beautiful face.’
      • ‘She stared after him until his retreating form was no longer discernible through the trees.’
      • ‘Several other shapeless gray forms emerged from the tents inside the camp.’
      • ‘He was a lifelong bachelor and was believed to have remained celibate - but did he enjoy painting the naked female form?’
      • ‘Soon enough the attackers emerged, their blurred forms now visible under the crimson light.’
      • ‘Her slender form was a crumpled heap in his arms, with bruises and blood marring her creamy white skin.’
      • ‘What she didn't know was the fading sunlight framed her perfect form and gave her hair a fiery glow.’
      • ‘She wore a skirt of powder blue with an ivory chiffon blouse that heightened her delicate physique and slender form.’
      • ‘The light drew closer and human forms were soon visible, running towards the crowd.’
      • ‘Before him Erik saw a mass of huddled forms in the corner of the room.’
      • ‘Pulling her silk robe more tightly around her naked form, Olivia pads over to her night table to pick up a bottle of body lotion.’
      • ‘He stepped to the side so that his form blocked the door.’
      • ‘He held her so that she could not move, his strong arms encircled about her slender form.’
      • ‘Stepping into the doorway separating the two rooms, he studied her slim form huddled on the couch.’
      • ‘She was dressed in a long, silver dress that clung to her form.’
      body, shape, figure, silhouette, proportions, stature, build, frame, physique, anatomy
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    3. 1.3Arrangement and style in literary or musical composition.
      ‘these videos are a triumph of form over content’
      • ‘In the argument of content over form or vice-versa, here content dictates form.’
      • ‘The book reflects the structure of the conference in both form and content in an attempt to capture the dynamism of the event.’
      • ‘The subject is too self-conscious, the Italian still more concerned with form than feeling.’
      • ‘Indeed, this tone is reinforced throughout the book by both its content and its form.’
      • ‘As a pair they present a complex tale of memory and forgetting in terms of both form and content.’
      • ‘The problem is one of both form and content, of poetic method and political consciousness.’
      • ‘We feature a crop of interesting product designs marrying form and function in experimental ways.’
      • ‘In fact, he's made it worse by a jarring disjunction between form and content.’
      • ‘It is this contrast between form and content that gives the show its constant elan.’
      • ‘Lacking both form and content, Soul Survivors can hardly be called a movie at all.’
      • ‘Branagh's film thus presents us once again with a provocative conflict between form and content.’
      • ‘This uncomfortable contradiction between form and content lies at the heart of both their work.’
      • ‘Still, the film is undeniably distinctive, although this is due to style as much as form.’
      • ‘Haven't ballet purists reacted negatively to the combination of classical form and popular content?’
      • ‘It is hard to separate form from content, so there's no use asking authors to clean up their act.’
      • ‘His smart-alec games with form and style are very witty, youthful and enormously engaging.’
      • ‘That was the thing that interested me about it; it's that marriage between form and content.’
      • ‘On the downside, a small minority of articles favour form over content to an excessive degree.’
      • ‘Also the length of the film dictates the form, it is a fine balance between form and content.’
      • ‘Another question ran as follows: Choose a poem in which the poet has created a perfect blend of form and content.’
      structure, arrangement, Construction, framework, format, layout, design, organization, system, planning, order, orderliness, symmetry, proportion
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    4. 1.4Philosophy The essential nature of a species or thing, especially (in Plato's thought) regarded as an abstract ideal that real things imitate or participate in.
      • ‘Art as vision locates the subject of art in the artist, not in an external world of real or ideal forms.’
      • ‘Epicurus rejected the existence of Platonic forms and an immaterial soul, and he said that the gods have no influence on our lives.’
      • ‘The most adequately objective knowledge we could have would be of the nature of these abiding forms fixed in the nature of things.’
      • ‘Species are not regarded as permanent abstract forms, but as the result of chance combinations of atoms.’
      • ‘Whitehead sees them as ingredients in an experience and rather similar to Plato's ideal forms.’
  • 2A mold, frame, or block in or on which something is shaped.

    • ‘You fill the forms with stone and concrete, then ‘slip’ the forms up for the next level.’
    1. 2.1A temporary structure for holding fresh concrete in shape while it sets.
      • ‘After the spread footing pour has set, a concrete pier form is placed on top of the footing.’
      • ‘Passive form oils usually do not leave a dusty layer on the form or the concrete.’
  • 3A particular way in which a thing exists or appears; a manifestation.

    ‘her obsession has taken the form of compulsive exercise’
    and → variety
    • ‘The bill will have serious implications for journalists and photographers in its current form.’
    • ‘Some of the following supplements may come in convenient powder forms - use those when possible.’
    • ‘Taking about 8mg of each nutrient every day in supplement form may also help tanning.’
    • ‘It is slander if it takes the form of spoken words, gestures or mimicry.’
    • ‘Draft policies then appeared in the form of reports brought before Council for formal approval.’
    • ‘That pledge has since been backed by publicans in other counties who have vowed to resist the ban in its current form.’
    • ‘The talk will take the form of an information session on how the local authority works.’
    • ‘At the time of the Revolution, many of the languages of the national minorities lacked written forms.’
    • ‘In time it may be advantageous to hold data in processed form, but at present raw data remains too valuable.’
    • ‘It will now address as a matter of urgency the form that this independent body should take.’
    • ‘The appropriate drug in whatever form should be legal and available on prescription.’
    • ‘Ginger is easily obtained and comes in a variety of forms: powder, capsules, oil and tea.’
    • ‘If I understand the literature about Anthrax, it has to be in a powdered form in order to be distributed over a wide area or via aerosol.’
    • ‘The survey will be in the form of a questionnaire, asking about people's experience of the NHS in their area.’
    • ‘It even published a collection of the best corrections in book form.’
    • ‘It will be easier at this time to put abstract ideas into concrete form.’
    • ‘The Church was not a separate entity, but one that gave legal form and substance to the society of the time.’
    • ‘The licence is in draft form and will be issued to your clients shortly.’
    • ‘Virtually all the important research continues to appear in the form of papers in journals.’
    • ‘In fact, far from more bank holidays, what we need is fewer - at least in the traditional fixed form.’
    manifestation, appearance, embodiment, incarnation, semblance, shape, guise, character, description, expression
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    1. 3.1Any of the ways in which a word may be spelled, pronounced, or inflected.
      ‘an adjectival rather than adverbial form’
      • ‘In other instances, there are related prepositional and adverbial forms.’
      • ‘To arrive at the original meaning of a surname, one has to consider the earliest recorded forms and invoke the expertise of a philologist.’
      • ‘Christian names can be indicative of class and the form of the name used can be indicative of politics.’
      • ‘In practice, dictionaries take a middle course between wholehearted descriptivism and prescriptive edicts. They advise when a form is controversial, or a word is going out of use, or is shifting its sense.’
      • ‘Some examples of words ending in -ful that have no forms in -less are awful, bashful and deceitful.’
      • ‘Using polite forms and neutral pronouns with peers is considered effeminate.’
      • ‘For example, instant messaging often relies on acronyms and shortened forms of words.’
      • ‘All these verb forms are, in fact, largely neutral with respect to time and may be used in sentences with differing time implications.’
      • ‘These different shapes spell out word forms that belong to the verb lexeme crown.’
      • ‘Every noun has nine forms, you see, indicating its relationship to other words in the sentence.’
      • ‘The point is that word parts are bonding into forms according to the grammatical rules of English word formation.’
      • ‘English does not require the use of gender-differentiated forms of the definite article and other similar words.’
      • ‘To get facility with Italian as a third language, you would need only to grasp minor changes in word forms and syntax.’
      • ‘The female form of the word was wicce, from which we get our witch, though at one time men could be witches, too.’
      • ‘This formality is in part caused by the Czech language, which has two forms of the second-person personal pronoun.’
      • ‘Granted, there is a possibility that the clitic forms had not yet evolved 200 years ago.’
      • ‘The correct Irish form of the name Ballyhaunis was then, and still is open to question.’
      • ‘As a flood of French verbs entered the language, they acquired noun forms by zero derivation, too.’
      • ‘She did this by presenting the children with nonsense words and setting up situations which would elicit derived forms of the words.’
      • ‘Either way, it is strange, and so is modified into something that sounds like a current English form.’
    2. 3.2The structure of a word, phrase, sentence, or discourse.
      ‘every distinction in meaning is associated with a distinction in form’
      • ‘Sentences of this form are called conditionals, and will concern us a good deal in the next chapter.’
      • ‘The meaning of individual words is linked to the overall grammatical form of the sentence.’
      • ‘One also needs to pay attention to the syntactic form of the sentences.’
  • 4A type or variety of something.

    ‘sponsorship is a form of advertising’
    • ‘It is committed to peaceful campaigns against all forms of animal abuse and promotes a cruelty-free lifestyle.’
    • ‘"They say that imitation is a form of flattery, " Shane said.’
    • ‘Correcting any form of social misbehaviour is not something that can be done quickly.’
    • ‘We should not tolerate any form of discrimination or racism in our country.’
    • ‘The Commonwealth suspends or expels nations which have military coups and non-democratic forms of government.’
    • ‘Preventing HPV is difficult, since no form of barrier contraception is completely protective.’
    • ‘If a pure form of proportional representation had been used in 2001 we would have had a hung parliament.’
    • ‘Early forms of male pattern balding do well with treatment.’
    • ‘The army has a zero tolerance policy towards any form of bullying or harassment.’
    • ‘The two most effective forms of mass direct action are riots and strikes.’
    • ‘Melanoma is a more serious form of skin cancer.’
    • ‘Their mandate is the defence of women's rights in Quebec, with a focus on the prevention of violence and all forms of discrimination.’
    • ‘The geological period known as the Cambrian is marked by the rather sudden appearance of all the basic forms of animals now in existence.’
    • ‘Even if rental income has dropped, housing proprietors are sitting on an asset that outperforms all other conventional forms of investment by up to five times.’
    • ‘Three in 10 employees will experience some form of mental health problem in any one year.’
    • ‘Faculty evaluation of students takes two basic forms: course grades and letters of recommendation.’
    • ‘You almost have to use traditional forms of advertising, like TV and radio, which can get very expensive.’
    • ‘The two peoples spoke a different language and practiced different forms of religious worship.’
    • ‘When winter came, grass, then as now the cheapest form of animal feed, did not grow.’
    • ‘I had a passport a good year before I did any travelling simply because it's a convenient form of ID.’
    kind, sort, type, order, class, classification, category, variety, genre, brand, style
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    1. 4.1An artistic or literary genre.
      • ‘Not only was the language being re-shaped, but so were the generic forms of English literature.’
      • ‘Before the First World War, the short story was detective fiction's predominant literary form.’
      • ‘Valuation is integral to novel theory's understanding of literary forms.’
      • ‘Composed at speed and in anger, the poem uses the popular ballad form with immense power and sometimes surreal effect.’
      • ‘the middle of the 18th century there had been a revival of medieval and traditional literary forms - such as the ballad and the folk tale.’
      • ‘The satirist may use different forms of literature in prose or verse.’
      • ‘Modern Karakalpak writers have adopted Western literary forms such as novels, short stories, and plays.’
      • ‘Such urgency, that insistence, might color everything in poetry, this most personal of all literary forms.’
      • ‘She didn't want to write another novel immediately, so the short story is the perfect form.’
      • ‘In the early eighteenth century, Ludvig Holberg wrote in a variety of forms, including satire and comedy.’
      • ‘Both have consistently focused on a variety of music forms, from purely electronic to experimental jazz to experimental full stop.’
      • ‘Prolific and hard-working, de Pisan wrote in most of the contemporary forms and genres.’
      • ‘Orwell adapts the literary forms of the allegory and beast fable for his own purposes.’
      • ‘Pamuk experiments endlessly with the form of the novel.’
      • ‘Like so many of Jordan's films, it is both a reflection on the genre form and an allegory of contemporary global politics.’
      • ‘Not just drama, the story also inspires poetry, memoirs, reportage and other literary forms.’
      • ‘Film-making is best learned on the job, like many other artistic or literary forms.’
      • ‘It also requires that production draws on the full range of available forms and genres.’
      • ‘Weaving is a highly developed traditional art form.’
      • ‘What has changed is an interest in choosing works to represent a range of cultural experiences as well as a range of literary forms.’
      • ‘The other stories too reflect the vibrancy and dynamism of the short story as a form that constantly offers something new in craft, technique and theme.’
    2. 4.2Botany A taxonomic category that ranks below variety, which contains organisms differing from the typical kind in some trivial, frequently impermanent, character, e.g., a color variant.
      Compare with subspecies and variety
      • ‘The islands are very rich floristically, with a high proportion of shrubs and other woody forms.’
      • ‘A southern taxonomic form is distributed in North America in Pacific drainages from northern Washington north to the Alaska Peninsula.’
      • ‘Indeed, like most flowering plants, both forms were hermaphrodites.’
      • ‘In the field these two forms looked like distinct taxa, and we wondered if earlier botanists were not correct in recognizing this material as either varietally or specifically distinct.’
      • ‘Seventeen species/botanical forms representing all the Old World lupins and one New World species were used in the experiment.’
  • 5The customary or correct method or procedure; what is usually done.

    ‘an excessive concern for legal form and precedent’
    • ‘This is not correct form in polite company, but then, I generally avoid polite company.’
    • ‘Beneath these arguments about legal form lie the wider issues of self-determination.’
    • ‘For form's sake, she apologised and said she'd replace it.’
    • ‘Not only had he paid for his parking but had displayed the receipt sticker as instructed. He was even more shocked because he had visited the Cove often before and knew the form.’
    • ‘There was some grudging applause at the final curtain, but I got the feeling it was more for the sake of form, rather than actual enjoyment.’
    good manners, manners, polite behaviour, correct behaviour, acceptable conduct, convention, etiquette, protocol
    the done thing
    etiquette, social practice, custom, usage, use, habit, wont, protocol, procedure, rules, convention, tradition, fashion, style, routine, ritual, pattern, regimen, policy, method, system, way, rule, formula, set formula
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    1. 5.1A set order of words; a formula.
      • ‘Although no particular form of words is necessary the waiver must be express.’
      • ‘I suspect this form of expression is a local custom for elderly people to ward off the envy of jealous gods.’
      • ‘The Rev Chris Swift, a parent himself, agonised over a form of words for a situation he hadn't faced before.’
      • ‘Provided this is done in clear terms the judge need not use any particular form of words.’
      • ‘It is contended, rightly, that no particular form of words is required so long as the intention is clear.’
    2. 5.2A formality or item of mere ceremony.
      ‘the outward forms of religion’
      • ‘At least in its outward forms, this religion does not look so very different from that of the pagan Britons under Roman rule.’
      • ‘Similarly, the most complex ritual forms can be rendered impotent and meaningless if a sufficient level of emotional investment isn't there.’
      • ‘Ceremonial observances, rituals, and other outward forms are its basis; and compliance with them is what it takes as essential to the religious life.’
      • ‘One method through which this was achieved was by re-positioning the religious ritual forms as archaic survivals of a Hindu past.’
      • ‘It is true that this general election does still adhere to some of the old forms and conventions of British democracy.’
      • ‘The Act of Supremacy (1559) established the Church of England as the State religion. Those who rejected its outward forms and practices were fined, or worse.’
      • ‘Unbelievers who undergo conversion are almost always attracted to religion's more traditional forms.’
      • ‘Divine activities do not seem to be limited only to forms which have undergone ritual consecration.’
      official procedure, rule, regulation, convention, ritual, custom, matter of form, formal gesture
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  • 6A printed document with blank spaces for information to be inserted.

    [as modifier] ‘an application form’
    • ‘It's becoming a card that strikes more fear into chefs' hearts than a self-assessment tax form.’
    • ‘All completed enrolment forms must be returned to the school by Friday, February 14.’
    • ‘Employees can nominate their colleagues in any category and nomination forms can be obtained from the local human resource offices.’
    • ‘I get my accountant to fill out my self-assessment tax form, as it is pretty time-consuming to do it myself.’
    • ‘If only he had read the fine print on the medical release form at the hospital.’
    • ‘Ofsted is also promising to take self-assessment forms completed by head teachers into account more than at present.’
    • ‘At the desk Cassie and Sally filled out various forms.’
    • ‘I'm just filling in an Occupational Health form for work, which requires details of one's GP.’
    • ‘It transpires that the only reason our buyers didn't hand deliver the contracts over the weekend was because one of their names was spelled incorrectly on the forms.’
    • ‘Every incident requiring action from a supervisor must be documented in writing on the correct form.’
    • ‘Under the changes there is now a new procedure and application form.’
    • ‘To enter the competition, fill out the application form on this page.’
    • ‘It may well be that some taxpayers are being discouraged from filling in forms simply because these forms verge on the incomprehensible.’
    • ‘You will have to fill out an application form and there will be questions about your medical history and your lifestyle.’
    • ‘As soon as the EU Commission approves the scheme the necessary application forms will be made available to farmers.’
    • ‘The leaflet and claim form will also be available on the agency's website.’
    • ‘You can print off application forms through the official website.’
    • ‘As already stated the details on each form will be treated in the strictest confidence.’
    • ‘It will just mean one more legal form that has to be signed before a recording can happen.’
    • ‘Simply complete the entry form available in the library.’
    questionnaire, document, coupon, tear-off slip, sheet of paper, paper
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  • 7British A class or year in a school, usually given a specifying number.

    ‘the fifth form’
    • ‘It plans to do this by reducing four of its year groups from three forms per year to two forms by merging the classes.’
    • ‘Jayden was two years older than Hailey and Alexa, he'd dropped out of school in his fifth form year to join a band.’
    • ‘I got to school and traipsed up the stairs to my form room.’
    • ‘I was friends with some girls in my form but I also had other friends from different classes.’
    • ‘Laura came home very distressed because she thought her form teacher would tell her off for being late.’
    • ‘I suspect that she dropped science in the fourth form, like me.’
    • ‘I am a supply teacher and I have been for the past nine years teaching in primary schools, high schools, sixth forms and colleges.’
    • ‘I took her straight back to see her form tutor and they promised to do something about it.’
    class, year, school group, tutor group, set, stream, band
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  • 8The state of an athlete or sports team with regard to their current standard of performance.

    ‘illness has affected his form’
    ‘they've been in good form this season’
    • ‘He said many players had discovered their form and this was having a positive influence on the team.’
    • ‘On current form, he certainly stands a better chance than his team-mate.’
    • ‘The England cricket team's improved form will, I hope, reignite interest in the game in our inner cities.’
    • ‘On current form, he may be the best striker in the first division, but he doesn't expect to start.’
    • ‘The United manager hopes that a victory against Boavista would also ignite his team's Premiership form.’
    • ‘Fingers are crossed that both can keep up their brilliant form from the recent national games.’
    • ‘Part of the reason why he doesn't reproduce his club form for England is that his form improves as the team he plays in gets better.’
    • ‘Jebb was 24 seconds behind Bailey who on current form is favourite to win the title.’
    • ‘He has shown consistent form with both bat and ball so far this season but still needs a big score under his belt.’
    • ‘This was a crucial game for Ilkley not least because of the need to show some form as the team prepares for an arduous final few weeks of the season.’
    • ‘If he maintains his current level of form then he will be challenging for the Jockeys Title.’
    • ‘The second day was tense as they struggled to find the previous days' form.’
    • ‘Smith's own form with the bat is another major concern for South Africa.’
    • ‘Their first league victory of the season will surely not be far away with David Bentley in his current form.’
    • ‘Following a bad start, the Greens have become one of national league two's form teams over the last two months.’
    • ‘Italo Stars have hit a rich vein of form and will be bubbling with confidence for Saturday's home clash.’
    • ‘I am lucky enough to be part of a team whose form has been magnificent, with mesmerising displays.’
    • ‘On current domestic form, Liverpool might not see another Champions League night like this for a very long time to come.’
    • ‘Based on the two teams' current form, today's encounter looks set to be close fought and could go either way.’
    • ‘Aberdeen are one of the Scottish Premier League's form teams and have yet to concede a goal in five games.’
    fitness, physical fitness, condition, fettle, shape, trim, health, state of health
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    1. 8.1Details of previous performances by a racehorse or greyhound.
      ‘an interested bystander studying the form’
      • ‘For example, when the handicapper allots a weight to a horse for the Grand National, he will look at its previous form.’
      • ‘I know as much about their chances as anyone who has seen them run and studied the form. There is not much between them.’
      • ‘Rogers enjoyed a stunning success when Moon Unit took the Group 3 Greenlands Stakes, despite starting as the rank outsider at 20/1 - a surprising price to anyone who bothered to take a close look at the animal's form.’
      • ‘With, of course, no previous form to go on, the weight of money tends to offer significant clues to the outcome.’
      • ‘As ladies in elaborate hats paraded and gentlemen in top hat and tails studied form, the royals rode in the traditional Ascot carriage procession.’
      • ‘Forget studying form, this mother-of-two's method is to choose names that mean something to her.’
      • ‘Some tipsters do have good long-term records, largely because they study form every day, but they are few and far between.’
      • ‘The three-year-old showed consistent form last season and ended his first campaign with a brace of victories.’
  • 9British A long bench without a back.

    • ‘The shelter inside was totally dark and one had to grope to find a place to sit on the backless wooden forms.’
    • ‘The original seats were old wooden forms which could be pushed back against the wall.’
    • ‘It was a truck with a projector in the back that they'd back up to the hall, open a flap in the wall and the projector would poke through that. We'd sit on forms watching cowboy movies, I think cowboy movies was all they showed!’
    bench, long seat, pew, settle, stall
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  • 10US Printing

    variant spelling of forme
  • 11British A hare's lair.

    • ‘Hares lie overnight in ‘forms’, which are a kind of above-ground nest.’
    lair, den, drey, lodge, burrow, set
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  • 1Bring together parts or combine to create (something)

    ‘the company was formed in 1982’
    • ‘Some composers, notably Stockhausen, formed their own publishing companies.’
    • ‘Seven officers have formed an Arson Reduction Team whose aim is to educate people and demonstrate the consequences of arson.’
    • ‘A task team will be formed to ensure the plans are implemented and to draw up a budget to put before the council.’
    • ‘The five local lads who got together and formed a band last year, are very popular with locals for 21st birthday parties etc.’
    • ‘The club's many supporters may wish to form a Trust and proceed on that basis.’
    • ‘A strike committee has been formed and any votes cast will be by way of secret ballot.’
    • ‘No one had any real idea of how to form an inclusive and representational government.’
    • ‘Those who wanted issues resolved in a constitutional manner formed a Home Rule party in 1870.’
    • ‘Together they have formed a unique company that has played a key role in bringing the Asian experience to the forefront of British Theatre.’
    • ‘They will move to a new, central squad, which is being formed specifically to crack down on street crime.’
    • ‘Neighbours have already got together and formed a community association, which in all but name is a crime fighting force.’
    • ‘In 1974, the FBI formed its Behavioral Science Unit to investigate serial rape and homicide cases.’
    • ‘The PCB has also announced the dissolution of provincial cricket associations that were formed on an experimental basis in 2003.’
    • ‘The growing need for cooperation and integration among Asian countries dictates that East Asian countries get together and move toward forming one community.’
    • ‘All of these patients heard of Dr. Philippe by word of mouth and they have formed their own informal support groups so that they can help each other.’
    • ‘We hoped that, by banding together and forming a group to take united action, we could take a hand in shaping the future of our own community.’
    • ‘The group agreed it was a great idea and formed a registered non-profit society.’
    • ‘When the European Union was formed, it had six countries, and three of them were French-speaking.’
    • ‘The meeting followed an earlier one at which a committee had been formed to draw up rules.’
    • ‘In 1909, these immigrants and some Americans formed an organization named the Indo-American Association.’
    arrange, draw up, line up, assemble, organize, sort, order, range, array, dispose, marshal, deploy, gather, group, place, position, rank, grade
    set up, devise, establish, found, launch, float, create, bring into being, put in place, organize, institute, start, begin, get going, initiate, bring about, inaugurate, lay the foundations of
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    1. 1.1Organize people or things into (a group or body)
      ‘peasants and miners were formed into a militia’
      • ‘The primary objective of the remainder of this module is to explore how to form people into groups or networks.’
      • ‘If farmers want to form themselves into a group and raise equity to invest in the plant we would have to look at a proposal from them.’
      • ‘They have unrealistic expectations of what it takes to form people into teams, and they soon discover that the modern work force rejects teamwork, preferring instead to join cliques.’
      • ‘In October 1940 a number of somewhat heterogeneous elements were formed into a battalion based at Tenby in Wales.’
      • ‘About 1,400 National Guard troops have been formed into a dozen regional response units, while smaller quick-reaction forces have been set up in each of the 50 states’
    2. 1.2Go to make up or constitute.
      ‘the precepts that form the basis of the book’
      • ‘The Queen has paid for 33 clematis plants which will form the central path up to the marquee at her garden party on August 8 this year.’
      • ‘The report will form part of a strategy to help advise governments on diet, physical activity and health.’
      • ‘Reproductions of wallpapers and carpets that might have been used in the house in the early nineteenth century form the backdrop for the museum's collection.’
      • ‘The Sligo service forms part of the airline's route to the north west.’
      • ‘Examination of the chart shape forms a very useful part of any basic reading of the horoscope.’
      • ‘The diary he kept during his time on smack eventually formed the basis for Trainspotting.’
      • ‘It formed an important formative influence on the young Tagore.’
      • ‘The music is superb, noble and inspiring, especially the choruses which form the backbone of the work.’
      • ‘It is not my role to agree with any proposition about the ideal family relationship that forms the best environment for raising children.’
      • ‘Together they form one of the most original and dramatic works of architecture of the period anywhere in Europe.’
      • ‘Traditional medicine still forms an essential part of rural health care for most people here.’
      • ‘These rocks also occur beneath the Lagan Valley and the line of mountains forming the Antrim hills.’
      • ‘The arts centre will form the centrepiece of the community's art and crafts industry.’
      • ‘The nuclear family, although forming the smallest kin unit, is always socially embedded in a wider kin unit.’
      • ‘He published this method in 1919, and it also formed the basis of his seminal paper on the scattering of plane electric waves by spheres.’
      • ‘The present compilation combines aspects of both the flamboyant virtuoso and the profound spiritualist that together formed the personality of Franz Liszt.’
      • ‘Overall, these arguments form a relatively small - but important - part of the book.’
      • ‘The impressive group of works which forms the core of the exhibition is accompanied by others less prepossessing and of sometimes doubtful relevance.’
      • ‘It seems to me that these four reasons form a rather weak basis for his claim.’
      • ‘It maintains evolution and forms the very basis of cosmic life.’
      comprise, make, make up, constitute, compose, add up to, account for, represent
      constitute, serve as, act as, function as, perform the function of, do duty for, make, embody, compose, comprise
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3[no object]Gradually appear or develop.
      ‘a thick mist was forming all around’
      • ‘All day Sunday, a plan had been forming in my mind.’
      • ‘He ran his thumb tenderly over the bruise already forming on her face.’
      • ‘Dip a glass into water and see if droplets form on the surface.’
      • ‘Conservatism is about pragmatism and respect for the established order which has formed over many generations.’
      • ‘He blushed at his admission and I wondered at the shy relationship that had formed between my two friends.’
      • ‘The tubers will form on the surface of the soil, or just below.’
      • ‘Mix to combine and set aside for five minutes, or until small bubbles form on the surface.’
      • ‘As Dani was translating the words, tears formed in her grandmother's eyes.’
      • ‘It is caused when blood clots form in deep veins in the legs, moving to block the blood vessels of vital organs.’
      • ‘Small beads of sweat were now forming on my forehead.’
      • ‘A plan formed in his mind, but he did not have much time to think it over.’
      • ‘Despite this, an establishment consensus has already formed on the task at hand.’
      • ‘In 1976, he calculated that once a black hole forms, it starts losing mass by radiating energy.’
      • ‘An idea slowly began forming in the back of my mind.’
      • ‘Although the light was very dim, I began to see shapes forming in the darkness around me.’
      • ‘Incredible temperatures would have occurred as the sun, the nine known planets, and the thousands of other bodies that orbit the sun gradually formed.’
      • ‘But when we started to sing, a few passers-by began turning their heads in curiosity and gradually a crowd formed and some even sang with us.’
      • ‘When the flowers begin to fade and before a seed pod forms, cut the flower head, being careful to leave the foliage to die back naturally.’
      • ‘He smiled slowly to himself, the plan forming gradually in his mind.’
      • ‘You should clean these feeders every three days to ensure that mold does not form.’
      materialize, come into being, come into existence, crystallize, emerge, spring up, develop
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4Conceive (an idea or plan) in one's mind.
      • ‘On the basis of its own investigations the landlord formed an honestly held belief that this tenant would detrimentally affect the mall.’
      • ‘While the idea was still being formed, however, something happened to him.’
      • ‘I formed the impression that my husband was not close to his relatives, given the disparaging way he spoke about them.’
      • ‘Individual councillors sought advice and formed their own judgement about whether or not they could take part.’
      • ‘As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed.’
      • ‘My previous opinion had been formed after hearing a Clarence Valley bird expert talking on local ABC Radio.’
      • ‘I shook whatever ideas I had been forming out of my mind and pressed the small white button that I assumed was the doorbell.’
      • ‘Needless to say, she had formed a rather negative opinion based on what she had seen at the prison.’
      • ‘Completely different opinions may be formed if there's no channel for interaction and communication.’
      • ‘In 1995 he formed the idea of organising an exhibition in Greenwich to celebrate the Millennium.’
      • ‘He was given a contract lasting 18 months, but appreciated opinions would be formed about his ability to make the transition from playing long before that.’
      • ‘Before the jurors leave, the judge instructs them to not discuss the case, as their opinion should not be formed before all testimony is heard.’
      • ‘Many of my opinions have been formed and informed by African American life.’
      • ‘Hence there is no sense of the possibility of individuals forming their own moral judgements about right and wrong.’
      • ‘And how can you trust your teenage opinion of people, when those opinions were being formed via rampaging hormones and juvenile mood swings?’
      • ‘Margaret remains a person of fixed tastes and opinions which were formed very early.’
      • ‘You may find it would broaden the mind if you formed your opinions on the world by means other than the Daily Mail.’
      • ‘The probability is, however, that Gough has already formed a pretty good idea of where he will be going and that only the final details remain to be settled.’
      • ‘More extensive studies must be performed before any concrete theory can be formed.’
      • ‘Of course, there must also be those who would disagree with my position, having formed an equally strong but opposite opinion.’
      formulate, devise, conceive, work out, think up, prepare, make ready, get ready, work up, lay, draw up, put together, produce, fashion, concoct, construct, frame, forge, hatch, develop, organize
      View synonyms
    5. 1.5Enter into or contract (a relationship)
      ‘the women would form supportive friendships’
      • ‘Similar relationships have been formed with all foreign suppliers with whom they import directly.’
      • ‘Subsequently, an authentic relationship must be formed with each student, each semester.’
      • ‘During the 2-year course at the college, the students formed strong bonds with each other and their mentors.’
      • ‘He has difficulty forming intimate or trusting relationships.’
      • ‘That result may help explain the difficulties many of these children have in forming secure relationships.’
      • ‘For a while many settled down and formed relationships with local women.’
      • ‘We've formed a very good relationship that's like a family to me.’
      • ‘Alliances can be quickly formed, and supportive friendships quickly made.’
      • ‘He has worked with many players from the current squad already, and has formed a close bond with them.’
      • ‘Daladier often poured out his heart to Bullitt in this way, and formed an extremely close relationship with him.’
      • ‘Walpole had served George I for many years and George II soon formed an equally successful relationship with him.’
      • ‘During this briefer spell he formed a mutually enriching friendship with Gustav Holst.’
      • ‘Lucky for us, the relationships that we formed allowed us a lot of freedom to explore what was really going on.’
      • ‘She was glad to make friends with him, despite the tense circumstances under which the relationship had been formed.’
      • ‘It seemed odd, these relationships having been formed out of seemingly nothing.’
      • ‘Most of them have formed a lasting, positive network.’
      • ‘The researchers speculated that separation from parents might hinder the chances of forming intimate relationships as an adult.’
      • ‘Those who did not like me just let me get on with my life, conversely, I formed some very strong friendships, none of which depended upon answers to the homework or lifts in the car.’
      • ‘The numbers of folks I interacted with there and the lasting relationships I formed were just great.’
      • ‘Autism is a cruel condition that shuts children away in their own world and prevents them forming normal friendships and relationships.’
    6. 1.6Articulate (a word, speech sound, or other linguistic unit)
      • ‘With the lips and tongue, teeth help form words by controlling air flow out of the mouth.’
      • ‘He stared at the jury foreman's face, watched as his mouth formed the word ‘not’, but still he felt nothing other than anger.’
      • ‘His lips kept forming the same words over and over again.’
      • ‘I tried to talk but I couldn't quite concentrate on single words or forming complete sentences at the moment.’
      • ‘He felt the impulse to shout. His lips began to form the words.’
      • ‘She spoke very precisely, every word formed and enunciated with perfect diction.’
    7. 1.7Construct (a new word) by derivation or inflection.
      • ‘Most people only know a very few of the more common words formed using the suffix phobia.’
      • ‘New words are formed in a variety of ways, some of which overlap with each other.’
      • ‘This was formed in the sixteenth century from the verb disable, but the corresponding adjective abled seems not to have been used at that time.’
      • ‘And for these writers, gingerly is pretty clearly just a common-or-garden adverb formed in ly.’
      • ‘A number of other terms have been formed in the past two decades using tourism or tourist as one of the elements.’
      • ‘Although they often belong in clusters, complex words are usually formed one at a time in accordance with more or less established patterns.’
      • ‘The word was formed by a rather circuitous route, according to the OED's etymological information.’
  • 2Make or fashion into a certain shape or form.

    [with object] ‘form the dough into balls’
    • ‘Mix everything together lightly but thoroughly, then form the mixture into 4 plump patties.’
    • ‘His lips formed into a thin line when he saw Jason wrap his arm around me.’
    • ‘Wet your hands well with cold water, and form the mixture into small, flattened sausage shapes about 8cm long.’
    • ‘Dairiseki looked up, and her eyebrows pulled tightly together, forming a crease in the center of her forehead.’
    • ‘This clay was formed into a pot, mainly by building it up from layers of rings which are smoothed together by hand or on a wheel.’
    • ‘As she edged closer, she could see shapes forming in the centre of each light.’
    • ‘His own lips were slightly parted, forming a small ‘o’ shape.’
    • ‘Due to the karst topography, rocks and caves along the river have formed in strange shapes, stimulating the imagination of sightseers.’
    • ‘Add a couple of tablespoons of cold water and bring together to form a firm dough.’
    • ‘With the mirrors facing inwards, tape the 3 cardboards together to form a triangular container.’
    • ‘One of stone's great beauties is that it can be shaped and formed in any way you like.’
    • ‘The light surrounded the boy, and formed into the shape of a Chinese dragon.’
    • ‘Add the oil, rosemary, flour and salt and bring together to form a dough.’
    • ‘The film also shows multiple shots of two adult penguins cuddling side by side, their beaks touching and forming almost a heart shape.’
    • ‘Bricks are made from clay and other materials which are formed into shapes then fired in a kiln to make them strong and durable.’
    • ‘The shoulders of the dress hung off Isabelle's shoulders and the sleeves went all the way down her arm forming a ‘v’ shape on the top of each hand.’
    • ‘I arrived there late in the evening just as the smoke from the village fires was forming a perfect horizontal line above the fields.’
    • ‘Bronwen stopped and brought her hands together, forming a steeple with her long fingers.’
    • ‘The mixture is heated over a low fire, then formed into shape and cooled.’
    • ‘With the boulevard Massena, they form a triangle of broad, leafy streets that defines Paris' Asian quarter.’
    make, fashion, shape, model, mould, forge, found, cast, sculpt, hew, carve
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1[no object]Be made or fashioned into a certain shape or form.
      ‘his strong features formed into a smile of pleasure’
      • ‘I immediately ran away from the aircraft to where the rest of the crew had formed up.’
      • ‘The 10th Battalion and 16th Battalion formed up for the counter-attack in the assembly positions.’
      • ‘After lunch we formed up and practised our parade drill and made sure that everyone knew what was going on; when the time came for the real thing we were all ready for it.’
      • ‘The Roman fleet formed up in an unusual formation that proved to be very effective.’
      • ‘The Detachments marching in the Procession are formed up in The Mall, Marlborough Road and Cleveland Row.’
      • ‘He quickly formed his army up to meet an attack, but his crossbowmen were still on the other side of the river.’
      • ‘They formed up in three squadron lines, 1100m across, 300 metres apart and with 4 to 5 m between horsemen.’
      • ‘He took up his staff and stepped into the middle of the clearing, standing before the ranks of troops that had formed up to finish off the rebels.’
      • ‘The Austrians were formed up in a strong position 4 miles wide, in an area of rolling country, with the village of Leuthen at their centre, and their flanks protected by marshy ground.’
      • ‘The defenders formed up in a V-shaped formation.’
      • ‘The rest of my unit got out of the train of hummers, and formed up behind me.’
      • ‘Thursday we formed up the cars and drove to Colonial Williamsburg, maybe two miles away.’
      • ‘Believing that easy pickings were in store, the American warships formed up and closed range.’
      • ‘‘We must form up our troops and attack while we still have the advantage of surprise’ Jacomus added.’
      • ‘The general snapped his fingers twice, and the soldiers formed up into a dense phalanx.’
      • ‘The defenders fired from the walls, but the artillery breached a gate and when the storming party formed up, the defenders departed, leaving the city to be taken.’
      • ‘They took position on the high ground and watched government troops form up on the slopes below.’
      • ‘The men form up on the Green as the sound of marching British troops is heard.’
      • ‘And while the rebels formed up on the ridge, the royalists did the same some 500 yards away - out of shot from the dreaded longbows.’
      • ‘The regular fighters were deploying out of the other bays, and forming up in the standard offensive formation ahead of the bigger ships.’
    2. 2.2Have a specified shape.
      ‘her body was slight and flawlessly formed’
      • ‘Superbly formed and highly expressive, these extraordinary buildings emerge from the most basic of materials, earth and water, and in the harshest of conditions.’
      • ‘The UK, small but perfectly formed is a great place to be a mountain biker.’
      • ‘Her face was perfectly formed with high cheekbones and tanned smooth skin.’
      • ‘The chapel was small but perfectly formed, constructed like a miniature church.’
      • ‘The hands themselves were beautifully formed, so white they seemed carved of alabaster.’
    3. 2.3Shape or develop by training or discipline.
      • ‘Thus, conscience must be formed through education and prayer, and be informed by the teaching of Christ.’
      • ‘Think about the way good parents try to form their children. Their work is consistently geared toward an overall plan for their family.’
      • ‘Augustine writes that hardship is a gift from God that shapes us and forms us into what God wants us to be.’
      • ‘Manz is quick to acknowledge the mentors who formed him.’
      • ‘Nelson immediately returned to the West Indies, and his years there formed him as a naval officer.’
    4. 2.4Influence or shape (something abstract)
      ‘the role of the news media in forming public opinion’
      • ‘The feminist view of useless men may be extreme, but it has been hugely influential. For Gloria Steinem, who grew up with an alcoholic father, it formed her character and launched an entire movement.’
      • ‘This leads us to another point in the importance of the legends and folklore in forming and shaping a nation's character.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, polls are influential in forming public opinion and attitudes.’
      • ‘His politics were formed by his experiences serving in the army and he now lives in London ‘in voluntary exile’.’
      • ‘Dunn focuses on the upbringing that formed the young women's characters.’
      develop, mould, shape, train, teach, instruct, educate, school, tutor, coach, groom, drill, discipline, prime, prepare, guide, direct, inform, verse, enlighten, inculcate, indoctrinate, edify, cultivate, improve, better, uplift, elevate
      View synonyms


  • in form

    • (of an athlete or sports team) playing or performing well.

      • ‘There can be no doubt that Andy Johnson is a man in form, but is he really international quality?’
      • ‘France's Philippe Lima, with wins in Spain and his home county in the last two months, is clearly the man in form.’
      • ‘She went out in the second round of the women's doubles but hopes to be back on form for this month's Commonwealth Games.’
      • ‘When they are on form they look great but when they're not they look very average.’
      • ‘Benitez is a canny coach, and he may just coax some good performances out of Liverpool, provided their strikers remain fit and on form.’
      • ‘He is very fast and skillful, and when on form he is the best player in the team.’
      • ‘Fourth-placed All Blacks need a win to keep in the promotion hunt but come up against a team in form.’
      • ‘Man of the match was George Guest who was on form in midfield.’
      • ‘Teddy Sheringham is on form, and is playing well with Solskjaer.’
      • ‘Gough said all of England's players needed to be in form by the start of the Test series in July.’
  • off form

    • (of an athlete or sports team) not playing or performing well.

      • ‘Both are deemed by the selectors to be out of form at present, but both are talented enough to make a come-back to the team.’
      • ‘England's pre-match selection was suspect, with Iain Balshaw chosen at full-back despite being completely out of form.’
      • ‘IT is unfortunate that our captain is woefully out of form.’
      • ‘We've obviously been out of form the last five weeks so it's a pretty big game.’
      • ‘Brazil, clear favourites to retain the World Cup in Germany this summer, have several key players out of form and under fire from the media.’
      • ‘Equally out of form Aston Villa travel to cup specialists Sheffield United for what is sure to be a high tempo, passionate affair.’
      • ‘Both clubs have tons of good players but it only takes a couple to be off form and this could be decisive.’
      • ‘With Bergkamp on the wane and Kanu off form, a new striker is also high on the manager's priorities.’
      • ‘Roddick looked off form in Athens and failed to convert four break points in the decisive game of the match.’
      • ‘Most of the batsmen have been out of form on this tour, but we have to find some ways to score runs.’


Middle English: from Old French forme (noun), fo(u)rmer (verb, from Latin formare to form), both based on Latin forma a mold or form.