Definition of formally in US English:



  • 1In accordance with the rules of convention or etiquette.

    ‘he was formally attired’
    • ‘The room's tables, nevertheless, slowly filled with students, many clothed formally in dresses, suits and ties.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘You were rather formally attired, wearing a velvet dress that would have been appropriate for a concert stage.’
    • ‘If you are doing something in a formal manner, you are behaving formally; but if you previously behaved differently, you did so formerly.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Should the MPs dress formally and meet indoors, showing that they were a professional, hard-working coalition?’
    • ‘He was formally attired in brown breeches and a white silk shirt accompanied by a deep blue waistcoat.’
    • ‘When I'm referring to it and to its predecessors more formally I use the term ‘notebook’.’
    • ‘I think that the reason he took the trouble to dress formally is because he had a great regard for etiquette.’
  • 2Officially.

    ‘the mayor will formally open the new railroad station’
    • ‘It is not clear whether judgment was formally entered in accordance with the terms of settlement.’
    • ‘The MP was in town to formally open the station yesterday following the completion of a £9 million project.’
    • ‘If we opened the border more formally, many more people would come.’
    • ‘The coroner will formally open and adjourn the inquest today in Salisbury.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The mound and the historic mosaic are due to be formally opened in July.’
    • ‘The prime minister formally declared the country to be suffering from serious famine.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He added the minister had formally approved the inquiry.’
    • ‘The case was not formally opened and details of the incident will be revealed at the next hearing.’
    • ‘The UK's ratification of the convention formally takes effect next month.’
    • ‘At present most services are only open to men formally charged with assault.’
    • ‘Early in 1990, our institute formally opened to foreign volunteers.’
    • ‘In December of 1946, a grand jury was convened to decide formally whether to charge the suspects and try them.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Stalling for two days in hopes that the British fleet might appear, he formally surrendered on 19 October.’
    • ‘To date no one has been formally charged in the case.’
  • 3sentence adverb In outward form or appearance; in theory.

    ‘the theorems in question are formally true’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The decision to dissolve Parliament or appoint Cabinet ministers is formally exercised by the monarch, who acts on the Prime Minister's advice.’
    1. 3.1 In terms of form or structure.
      ‘formally complex types of text’
      • ‘All the movements spring from their own generative musical cell, and elaborate that germ into a formally complete and rounded whole.’
      • ‘Single forms are formally complete and tonally self-contained and are not divisible into smaller units.’
      • ‘This is apparent both formally in the materials of the sculpture and in terms of the testimonies she has collected.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The term alkyl refers to the hydrocarbon functional group derived formally by the loss of a hydrogen atom from the alkane.’
      • ‘Sophocles' play was for Aristotle an exemplary tragedy, both formally, in terms of unity of action, and in its tragic story.’