[ fawr-mat ]
See synonyms for: formatformatsformatting on

  1. the shape and size of a book as determined by the number of times the original sheet has been folded to form the leaves.: Compare duodecimo, folio (def. 2), octavo, quarto.

  2. the general physical appearance of a book, magazine, or newspaper, such as the typeface, binding, quality of paper, margins, etc.

  1. the organization, plan, style, or type of something: The format of the show allowed for topical and controversial gags.

  2. Computers. the arrangement of data for computer input or output, such as the number and size of fields in a record or the spacing and punctuation of information in a report.

verb (used with object),for·mat·ted, for·mat·ting.
  1. to plan or provide a format for: to format the annual telethon.

  2. Computers.

    • to set the format of (input or output): Some word-processing programs format output in a variety of ways.

    • to prepare (a disk) for writing and reading.

verb (used without object),for·mat·ted, for·mat·ting.
  1. to devise a format.

Origin of format

1830–40; <French <Latin (liber) fōrmātus (a book) formed (in a certain way)

Other words from format

  • for·mat·ter, noun
  • pre·for·mat, verb (used with object), pre·for·mat·ted, pre·for·mat·ting.
  • re·for·mat, verb, re·for·mat·ted, re·for·mat·ting.

Words Nearby format Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use format in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for format


/ (ˈfɔːmæt) /

  1. the general appearance of a publication, including type style, paper, binding, etc

  2. 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 leaf: See also duodecimo, quarto

  1. style, plan, or arrangement, as of a television programme

  2. computing

    • 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

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

Origin of 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

Scientific definitions for format


[ fôrmăt′ ]

  1. The arrangement of data for storage or display.

  1. To divide a disk into marked sectors so that it may store data.

  2. 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.