Origin of formic

1785–95; irregular < Latin formīca ant. Cf. French formique Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for formic

Historical Examples of formic

British Dictionary definitions for formic


  1. of, relating to, or derived from ants
  2. of, containing, or derived from formic acid

Word Origin for formic

C18: from Latin formīca ant; the acid occurs naturally in ants
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 formic

1791 (in formic acid), coined from Latin formica "ant" (see Formica (n.2)). The acid apparently first was noticed by Samuel Fisher and John Wray in 1670; it was first obtained in a fairly pure form in 1749 by German chemist Andreas Sigismund Marggraf (1709-1782), who prepared it by distilling red ants. It also is found in bee stings and stinging nettles.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper