- strict adherence to, or observance of, prescribed or traditional forms, as in music, poetry, and art.
- Religion. strong attachment to external forms and observances.
- Ethics. a doctrine that acts are in themselves right or wrong regardless of consequences.
- 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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for formalism
He was accused of “formalism,” a catch-all accusation that, like “Trotskyite,” had the ring of execution about it.When Stalin Met Lady Macbeth
November 9, 2014
The concept is that the formalism of past summits has made meaningful conversation difficult.At the U.S.-China Summit, Friendship Isn’t What Matters
Gordon G. Chang
June 7, 2013
Little shades of formalism had crept here and there into her manner, even toward me.In the Valley
There is in them an irreconcilable mixture of fury and formalism.Modern Painters Volume I (of V)
His sense of formalism had been sloughed off, his agreed-upon reactions bypassed.Warm
Deceit, flattery, formalism in prayer are abominable to God.Broken Bread
He could never get over the idea that formalism was the soul of function.The Music Master
- scrupulous or excessive adherence to outward form at the expense of inner reality or content
- the mathematical or logical structure of a scientific argument as distinguished from its subject matter
- the notation, and its structure, in which information is expressed
- theatre a stylized mode of production
- (in Marxist criticism) excessive concern with artistic technique at the expense of social values, etc
- the philosophical theory that a mathematical statement has no meaning but that its symbols, regarded as physical objects, exhibit a structure that has useful applicationsCompare logicism, intuitionism
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
Word Origin and History for formalism
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper