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[fawr-mey-shuh n] /fɔrˈmeɪ ʃən/
the act or process of forming or the state of being formed:
the formation of ice.
the manner in which a thing is formed; disposition of parts; formal structure or arrangement.
  1. a particular disposition of troops, as in columns, squares, etc.
  2. any required assembling of the soldiers of a unit.
  1. a body of rocks classed as a stratigraphic unit for geologic mapping.
    Compare member (def 8).
  2. the process of depositing rock or mineral of a particular composition or origin.
Origin of formation
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English formacioun < Latin fōrmātiōn- (stem of fōrmātiō), equivalent to fōrmāt(us) (see form, -ate1) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
formational, adjective
misformation, noun
nonformation, noun
self-formation, noun
subformation, noun
superformation, noun
1. establishment, founding, organization. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for formation
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • For the formation we may compare American vamose, to skedaddle, from Span.

  • Barrin even assented to the formation of a national militia.

    The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte William Milligan Sloane
  • The formation of States was always conditioned by individual rulership.

  • Drivers and cannoneers were dismounted to await the formation of the battalion line.

    Waring's Peril Charles King
  • Every creature assists in its own formation, souls being essentially creative and craving form.

    Tablets Amos Bronson Alcott
British Dictionary definitions for formation


the act of giving or taking form, shape, or existence
something that is formed
the manner in which something is formed or arranged
  1. a formal arrangement of a number of persons or things acting as a unit, such as a troop of soldiers, aircraft in flight, or a football team
  2. (as modifier): formation dancing
  1. the fundamental lithostratigraphic unit
  2. a series of rocks with certain characteristics in common
(ecology) a community of plants, such as a tropical rainforest, extending over a very large area
Derived Forms
formational, adjective
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 formation

late 14c., from Old French formacion (12c.) or directly from Latin formationem (nominative formatio) "a forming, shaping," noun of action or condition from past participle stem of formare "to form" (see form (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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formation in Medicine

formation for·ma·tion (fôr-mā'shən)

  1. The act or process of forming something or of taking form.

  2. Something formed.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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formation in Science
A long, mappable body of rock that is recognizable by its physical characteristics and by its location within the rock record.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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