verb (used with object), for·mat·ted, for·mat·ting.

to plan or provide a format for: to format the annual telethon.
  1. to set the format of (input or output): Some word-processing programs format output in a variety of ways.
  2. to prepare (a disk) for writing and reading.

verb (used without object), for·mat·ted, for·mat·ting.

to devise a format.

Origin of format

1830–40; < French < Latin (liber) fōrmātus (a book) formed (in a certain way)
Related formsfor·mat·ter, nounpre·for·mat, verb (used with object), pre·for·mat·ted, pre·for·mat··for·mat, verb, re·for·mat·ted, re·for·mat·ting. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for format

Contemporary Examples of format

Historical Examples of format

  • The format is pleasant, the book-marker voluptuous, the binding Arty-and-Crafty.

    A Great Man

    Arnold Bennett

  • The format of an invitation is not so important as its taste.

  • Some adaptations from the original text were made to format it into an e-text.

    Beyond Good and Evil

    Friedrich Nietzsche

  • It was changed to plain text to match the format of the rest of the text.

    Uncle Sam

    Albert Mathews

  • Format technique is just a fraction of producing an appealing play.

    The Mind Digger

    Winston Marks

British Dictionary definitions for format



the general appearance of a publication, including type style, paper, binding, etc
an approximate indication of the size of a publication as determined by the number of times the original sheet of paper is folded to make a leafSee also duodecimo, quarto
style, plan, or arrangement, as of a television programme
  1. the defined arrangement of data encoded in a file or for example on magnetic disk or CD-ROM, essential for the correct recording and recovery of data on different devices
  2. the arrangement of text on printed output or a display screen, or a coded description of such an arrangement

verb -mats, -matting or -matted (tr)

to arrange (a book, page, etc) into a specified format

Word Origin for format

C19: via French from German, from Latin liber formātus volume formed
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 format

1840, via French format (18c.), ultimately from Modern Latin liber formatus "a book formed" (in such and such a way), referring to shape, size; from past participle of formare "to form" (see form (v.)).


used chiefly of computers, 1964, from format (n.). Related: Formatted; formatting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for format




The arrangement of data for storage or display.


To divide a disk into marked sectors so that it may store data.
To determine the arrangement of data for storage or display.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.