[ fawrm ]
See synonyms for form on
  1. external appearance of a clearly defined area, as distinguished from color or material; configuration: a triangular form.

  2. the shape of a thing or person.

  1. a body, especially that of a human being.

  2. a dummy having the same measurements as a human body, used for fitting or displaying clothing: a dressmaker's form.

  3. something that gives or determines shape; a mold.

  4. a particular condition, character, or mode in which something appears: water in the form of ice.

  5. the manner or style of arranging and coordinating parts for a pleasing or effective result, as in literary or musical composition: a unique form for the novel.

  6. Fine Arts.

    • the organization, placement, or relationship of basic elements, as lines and colors in a painting or volumes and voids in a sculpture, so as to produce a coherent image; the formal structure of a work of art.

    • three-dimensional quality or volume, as of a represented object or anatomical part.

    • an object, person, or part of the human body or the appearance of any of these, especially as seen in nature: His work is characterized by the radical distortion of the human form.

  7. any assemblage of things of a similar kind constituting a component of a group, especially of a zoological group.

  8. Crystallography. the combination of all the like faces possible on a crystal of given symmetry.

  9. due or proper shape; orderly arrangement of parts; good order.

  10. Philosophy.

    • the structure, pattern, organization, or essential nature of anything.

    • structure or pattern as distinguished from matter.

    • (initial capital letter)Platonism. idea (def. 7c).

    • Aristotelianism. that which places a thing in its particular species or kind.

  11. Logic. the abstract relations of terms in a proposition, and of propositions to one another.

  12. a set, prescribed, or customary order or method of doing something.

  13. a set order of words, as for use in religious ritual or in a legal document: a form for initiating new members.

  14. a document with blank spaces to be filled in with particulars before it is executed: a tax form.

  15. a typical document to be used as a guide in framing others for like cases: a form for a deed.

  16. a conventional method of procedure or behavior: society's forms.

  17. a formality or ceremony, often with implication of absence of real meaning: to go through the outward forms of a religious wedding.

  18. procedure according to a set order or method.

  19. conformity to the usages of society; formality; ceremony: the elaborate forms prevalent in the courts of renaissance kings.

  20. procedure or conduct, as judged by social standards: Such behavior is very bad form.Good form demands that we go.

  21. manner or method of performing something; technique: The violin soloist displayed tremendous form.

  22. physical condition or fitness, as for performing: a tennis player in peak form.

  23. Grammar.

    • a word, part of a word, or group of words forming a construction that recurs in various contexts in a language with relatively constant meaning.: Compare linguistic form.

    • a particular shape of such a form that occurs in more than one shape. In I'm, 'm is a form of am.

    • a word with a particular inflectional ending or other modification. Goes is a form of go.

  24. Linguistics. the shape or pattern of a word or other construction (distinguished from substance).

  25. Building Trades. temporary boarding or sheeting of plywood or metal for giving a desired shape to poured concrete, rammed earth, etc.

  26. a grade or class of pupils in a British secondary school or in certain U.S. private schools: boys in the fourth form.

  27. British. a bench or long seat.

  28. British Informal. a criminal record: She didn't want to believe that her own mother had form.

  29. Also British, forme. Printing. an assemblage of types, leads, etc., secured in a chase to print from.

verb (used with object)
  1. to construct or frame.

  2. to make or produce.

  1. to serve to make up; serve as; compose; constitute: The remaining members will form the program committee.

  2. to place in order; arrange; organize.

  3. to frame (ideas, opinions, etc.) in the mind.

  4. to contract or develop (habits, friendships, etc.).

  5. to give form or shape to; shape; fashion.

  6. to give a particular form or shape to; fashion in a particular manner: Form the dough into squares.

  7. to mold or develop by discipline or instructions: The sergeant's job was to form boys into men.

  8. Grammar.

    • to make (a derivation) by some grammatical change: The suffix “-ly” forms adverbs from adjectives.

    • to have (a grammatical feature) represented in a particular shape: English forms plurals in “-s”.

  9. Military. to draw up in lines or in formation.

verb (used without object)
  1. to take or assume form.

  2. to be formed or produced: Ice began to form on the window.

  1. to take a particular form or arrangement: The ice formed in patches across the window.

Origin of form

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English forme, from Old French, from Latin forma “form, figure, model, mold, sort,” Medieval Latin: “seat”

synonym study For form

1. Form, figure, outline, shape refer to an appearance that can be recognized. Form, figure, and shape are often used to mean an area defined by contour without regard to other identifying qualities, as color or material. Outline refers to the line that delimits a form, figure, or shape: the outline of a hill. Form often includes a sense of mass or volume: a solid form. Shape may refer to an outline or a form: an “S” shape; a woman's shape. Figure often refers to a form or shape determined by its outline: the figure eight. Form and shape may also be applied to abstractions: the shape or form of the future. Form is applied to physical objects, mental images, methods of procedure, etc.; it is a more inclusive term than either shape or figure : the form of a cross, of a ceremony, of a poem.

Other words for form

Opposites for form

Other words from form

  • form·a·ble, adjective
  • form·a·bly, adverb
  • half-formed, adjective
  • mis·form, verb
  • mis·formed, adjective
  • non·form, noun
  • non·form·ing, adjective
  • o·ver·formed, adjective
  • self-formed, adjective
  • sem·i·formed, adjective
  • sub·form, noun
  • un·der·form, noun

Words that may be confused with form

Words Nearby form

Other definitions for -form (2 of 2)


  1. a combining form meaning “having the form of”: cruciform.

Origin of -form

From the Latin suffix -fōrmis Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use form in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for form (1 of 3)


/ (fɔːm) /

  1. the shape or configuration of something as distinct from its colour, texture, etc

  2. the particular mode, appearance, etc, in which a thing or person manifests itself: water in the form of ice; in the form of a bat

  1. a type or kind: imprisonment is a form of punishment

    • a printed document, esp one with spaces in which to insert facts or answers: an application form

    • (as modifier): a form letter

  2. physical or mental condition, esp good condition, with reference to ability to perform: off form

  3. the previous record of a horse, athlete, etc, esp with regard to fitness

  4. British slang a criminal record

  5. style, arrangement, or design in the arts, as opposed to content

  6. a fixed mode of artistic expression or representation in literary, musical, or other artistic works: sonata form; sonnet form

  7. a mould, frame, etc, that gives shape to something

  8. organized structure or order, as in an artistic work

  9. education, mainly British a group of children who are taught together; class

  10. manner, method, or style of doing something, esp with regard to recognized standards

  11. behaviour or procedure, esp as governed by custom or etiquette: good form

  12. formality or ceremony

  13. a prescribed set or order of words, terms, etc, as in a religious ceremony or legal document

  14. philosophy

    • the structure of anything as opposed to its constitution or content

    • essence as opposed to matter

    • (often capital) (in the philosophy of Plato) the ideal universal that exists independently of the particulars which fall under it: See also Form

    • (in the philosophy of Aristotle) the constitution of matter to form a substance; by virtue of this its nature can be understood

  15. British a bench, esp one that is long, low, and backless

  16. the nest or hollow in which a hare lives

  17. a group of organisms within a species that differ from similar groups by trivial differences, as of colour

  18. linguistics

    • the phonological or orthographic shape or appearance of a linguistic element, such as a word

    • a linguistic element considered from the point of view of its shape or sound rather than, for example, its meaning

  19. crystallog See crystal form

  20. taxonomy a group distinguished from other groups by a single characteristic: ranked below a variety

  1. to give shape or form to or to take shape or form, esp a specified or particular shape

  2. to come or bring into existence: a scum formed on the surface

  1. to make, produce, or construct or be made, produced, or constructed

  2. to construct or develop in the mind: to form an opinion

  3. (tr) to train, develop, or mould by instruction, discipline, or example

  4. (tr) to acquire, contract, or develop: to form a habit

  5. (tr) to be an element of, serve as, or constitute: this plank will form a bridge

  6. (tr) to draw up; organize: to form a club

Origin of form

C13: from Old French forme, from Latin forma shape, model

Derived forms of form

  • formable, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for Form (2 of 3)


/ (fɔːm) /

  1. (in the philosophy of Plato) an ideal archetype existing independently of those individuals which fall under it, supposedly explaining their common properties and serving as the only objects of true knowledge as opposed to the mere opinion obtainable of matters of fact: Also called: Idea

British Dictionary definitions for -form (3 of 3)


adj combining form
  1. having the shape or form of or resembling: cruciform; vermiform

Origin of -form

from New Latin -formis, from Latin, from fōrma form

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with form


In addition to the idiom beginning with form

  • form an opinion

also see:

  • run to form
  • true to form

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.