- 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 formalist
They are usually treated with the utmost sobriety, pondered as great works of formalist – even spiritual – exploration.Ad Reinhardt's Black (-on-Black) Humor
December 2, 2013
The messy signature actually detracts and distracts from a formalist reading of these otherwise pristine works.Hirst's Signature Marks the Spot
February 12, 2013
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
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.The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
- 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 formalist
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper