Definition of formality in US English:

formality

noun

  • 1The rigid observance of rules of convention or etiquette.

    ‘he retained the formality of his social background’
    • ‘However, the general pattern of double dependence on social status and formality is maintained.’
    • ‘Here, one must maintain discipline, proper etiquette, and formality.’
    • ‘For Vera and her family, tea consoles; for the Wells and their set, it's a ceremony, observed like everything else, with rigid formality.’
    • ‘Country house hotels promote this informal formality by eschewing hotel conventions such as reception desks and by ensuring that all drinks, meals and sundries are included in the per-night fee.’
    • ‘‘That was the last era where there were rules of etiquette, when there was still an element of formality,’ Maggie says.’
    • ‘Do we not sense a paradox here, in such procedural sameness and rigid formality applied to nature's bounteous diversity?’
    • ‘However, such benefits may come at a cost as a rigid formality may conflict with deeply held professional values such as autonomy, solidarity, flexibility, and a belief in tacit knowledge.’
    • ‘Renowned for her light-hearted disregard of formality, kicking off her shoes and chewing gum at meetings, she is reputed to have removed her wig to break the tension during key meetings.’
    • ‘A new sweetness pervades daily life and replaces the coldness and formality of familial relationships under aristocracy.’
    • ‘Social interaction is governed by norms emphasizing respect and formality and marking age, gender, status, and class differences.’
    • ‘‘We want to break down the formality, but retain high standards,’ Sankey explains.’
    • ‘Rigid self-control went hand-in-hand with a precise and exacting formality.’
    • ‘Michael did not suffer fools gladly and could seem aloof and distant at times, but this was his rather old-world formality.’
    • ‘Etiquette and formality are the antiquated attributes that make her readers swoon.’
    • ‘There are no traditional rules or rigid formality or fairy tale settings involving tormented love between a man and woman.’
    • ‘On the other hand, expressions must have a minimal formality in order to be understandable at all.’
    • ‘He travels frequently to remote places to absorb, notate and record rare indigenous musics, then transform them for the manicured formality of the Western concert hall.’
    • ‘Undoubtedly the human animal in his/her social interactions feels safer when a certain degree of formality is observed.’
    • ‘They were also the evolutionary years that bridged the gap between the rigid formality of the Edwardian styles and the ultimate changes that led to the knee-length dresses of 1926.’
    • ‘However, all are divided into different levels of formality depending on the social status of the person being addressed.’
    1. 1.1 Stiffness of behavior or style.
      ‘with disconcerting formality the brothers shook hands’
      • ‘She didn't like that - the way his sudden formality put distance between them.’
      • ‘Shirley was always disturbed by the formality he displayed in front of her brother, though she said nothing of it.’
      • ‘As a beginning teacher, I cultivated an ethos of formality and distance.’
      • ‘He bowed to her, in the distant formality of the rich, and then laughed as his hand caught on his sword, spoiling the movement.’
      • ‘She stood with a rigid formality, but her eyes were vacant and her lips moved silently.’
      ceremony, ceremoniousness, ritual, conventionality, red tape, protocol, decorum
      aloofness, reserve, remoteness, detachment, unapproachability, stand-offishness
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2usually formalities A thing that is done simply to comply with requirements of etiquette, regulations, or custom.
      ‘legal formalities’
      • ‘The details of the patent itself are being kept a closely guarded secret, pending completion of the legal formalities.’
      • ‘The clinics also did not fulfil the formalities required under the PNDT Act.’
      • ‘However, he has to comply with certain formalities before he is entitled to enforce this right.’
      • ‘In the past, customs regulations and formalities were cumbersome and this resulted in freight delays.’
      • ‘They may hold conventions, but these are mostly formalities to endorse a decision that the party bosses have made.’
      • ‘Refreshments were also served following the formalities of the evening.’
      • ‘Once I complete the formalities in Florida, I think I'll stay back a day or two and enjoy the weather.’
      • ‘They have never had to follow the rules and formalities normally required of border crossers.’
      • ‘The formalities take just moments, and you are whisked aboard to be greeted by a cabin steward ready to take your hand luggage and show you to your suite.’
      • ‘However, it would not be until the paper works and formalities are completed that these boats are sent home.’
      • ‘Was it simply the pressure to follow the formalities of the UN road?’
      • ‘After the formalities there was free admission to some of the rides with the mayor and his official party eagerly followed by local children.’
      • ‘The bureaucratic red tape and formalities that one has to go through is the source of frustration to everyone who lives here.’
      • ‘Why all the formalities and petty regulations, if one is supposed to become free?’
      • ‘By the time we cleared immigration and customs formalities and took a van to Makkah it was past midnight.’
      • ‘Only after completing all these formalities can the supplier sell his goods to the industries at the CSEZ.’
      • ‘Legal formalities in accident cases should be simplified so that people will not turn away.’
      • ‘However, the formalities were completed after a long wait of over nine hours at 7 on Sunday morning.’
      • ‘Bob and Vic have not completed the entry paperwork formalities and have not registered as required.’
      • ‘It was a clinical but not brutal performance, one in which Hewitt did everything right, right down to the formalities at the end of the match.’
      official procedure, rule, regulation, convention, ritual, custom, matter of form, formal gesture
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3a formality Something that is done as a matter of course and without question; an inevitability.
      ‘her saying no was just a formality, and both of them knew it’
      • ‘While this move was presented by Swapo as a procedural formality, observers agreed that it reflected strong internal differences.’
      • ‘This nomination was seen as a formality by observers.’
      • ‘The family drops by often; so much so, in fact, that knocking on the door is a formality they no longer observe.’
      • ‘And typically, these committee questionnaires are really a formality.’
      • ‘The matter was only a formality for the members at the UDC as they are fully refunded by the Department of the Environment.’
      • ‘It was, in my case, mainly a formality, but a formality that raised important questions that I promised myself I would revisit someday.’
      • ‘The question was merely a formality; the answer was obvious.’
      • ‘That Iceland's team has been hewn from a nation of just 290,000 people is unlikely to encourage Vogts, who has proved already that overcoming the might of a small fishing community is no formality.’
      routine, routine practice, normal procedure
      matter of course, foregone conclusion, inevitability, certainty, racing certainty
      View synonyms

Origin

Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘accordance with legal rules or conventions’): from French formalité or medieval Latin formalitas, from formalis (see formal).

Pronunciation

formality

/fôrˈmalədē//fɔrˈmælədi/