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.
- for·mal·ist, noun, adjective
- for·mal·is·tic, adjective
- for·mal·is·ti·cal·ly, adverb
- an·ti·for·mal·ist, noun, adjective
- non·for·mal·ism, noun
- non·for·mal·is·tic, adjective
- un·for·mal·is·tic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use formalism in a sentence
Their formalism, which they published in Theory in Biosciences in March, is based on three axioms.What Is an Individual? Biology Seeks Clues in Information Theory. | Jordana Cepelewicz | July 16, 2020 | Quanta Magazine
Broadly speaking, these divide themselves into two main branches, the Formalistic and the Naturalesque.
The Formalistic schools, led by the Ikenobos, aimed at a classic idealism corresponding to that of the Kano-academicians.
We should like to call this school the Natural in contradistinction to the Naturalesque and Formalistic schools.
He fancied that he could preserve the element which he has called "art-formalistic" and yet reach dramatic verity.Richard Wagner His Life and His Dramas | W. J. Henderson
In a dry, formalistic way, Primrose asked: "My dear brother, are you prepared for the great change!"Letters of Peregrine Pickle | George P. Upton
British Dictionary definitions for formalism
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
- 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