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formalism

[fawr-muh-liz-uh m] /ˈfɔr məˌlɪz əm/
noun
1.
strict adherence to, or observance of, prescribed or traditional forms, as in music, poetry, and art.
2.
Religion. strong attachment to external forms and observances.
3.
Ethics. a doctrine that acts are in themselves right or wrong regardless of consequences.
4.
Logic, Mathematics. a doctrine, which evolved from a proposal of David Hilbert, that mathematics, including the logic used in proofs, can be based on the formal manipulation of symbols without regard to their meaning.
Origin of formalism
1830-1840
First recorded in 1830-40; formal1 + -ism
Related forms
formalist, noun, adjective
formalistic, adjective
formalistically, adverb
antiformalist, noun, adjective
nonformalism, noun
nonformalistic, adjective
unformalistic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for formalist
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • formalist and Hypocrisy choose the easy ways, and are heard of no more.

    Bunyan

    James Anthony Froude
  • I am not such a fool or a formalist as you give me credit for being.

    The Marriage of Elinor Margaret Oliphant
  • The duty of a magistrate to be just, precedes that of being a formalist.

    A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 3 (of 10) Franois-Marie Arouet (AKA Voltaire)
  • The name of the one was formalist, and the name of the next Hypocrisy.

    Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress Samuel Phillips Day
  • The name of one was formalist, and the name of the other was Hypocrisy.

  • Like the misers of every race, he was both devotee and formalist.

    The Incendiary W. A. (William Augustine) Leahy
  • They will not be addressed to the formalist, the hypocrite, the wicked, and the ungodly.

    Practical Religion

    John Charles Ryle
  • As an upholder of the law he becomes a formalist and a reactionary.

    The Man in Court

    Frederic DeWitt Wells
British Dictionary definitions for formalist

formalism

/ˈfɔːməˌlɪzəm/
noun
1.
scrupulous or excessive adherence to outward form at the expense of inner reality or content
2.
  1. the mathematical or logical structure of a scientific argument as distinguished from its subject matter
  2. the notation, and its structure, in which information is expressed
3.
(theatre) a stylized mode of production
4.
(in Marxist criticism) excessive concern with artistic technique at the expense of social values, etc
5.
the philosophical theory that a mathematical statement has no meaning but that its symbols, regarded as physical objects, exhibit a structure that has useful applications Compare logicism, intuitionism
Derived Forms
formalist, noun
formalistic, adjective
formalistically, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for formalist

formalism

n.

1840, "strict adherence to prescribed forms," from formal + -ism. Attested from 1943 in reference to the Russian literary movement (1916-30). Related: Formalist; formalistic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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