noun, plural for·mu·las, for·mu·lae [fawr-myuh-lee] /ˈfɔr myəˌli/.

Origin of formula

1575–85; < Latin: register, form, rule. See form, -ule Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for formulae

Historical Examples of formulae

British Dictionary definitions for formulae


noun plural -las or -lae (-ˌliː)

an established form or set of words, as used in religious ceremonies, legal proceedings, etc
maths physics a general relationship, principle, or rule stated, often as an equation, in the form of symbols
chem a representation of molecules, radicals, ions, etc, expressed in the symbols of the atoms of their constituent elementsSee molecular formula, empirical formula, structural formula
  1. a method, pattern, or rule for doing or producing something, often one proved to be successful
  2. (as modifier)formula fiction
  1. a prescription for making up a medicine, baby's food, etc
  2. a substance prepared according to such a prescription
motor racing the specific category in which a particular type of car competes, judged according to engine size, weight, and fuel capacity
Derived Formsformulaic (ˌfɔːmjʊˈleɪɪk), adjective

Word Origin for formula

C17: from Latin: diminutive of forma form
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 formulae

plural of formula.



1630s, "words used in a ceremony or ritual," from Latin formula "form, draft, contract, regulation; rule, method, formula," literally "small form," diminutive of forma "form" (see form (n.)).

Modern sense is colored by Carlyle's use (1837) of the word for "rule slavishly followed without understanding" [OED].

Men who try to speak what they believe, are naked men fighting men quilted sevenfold in formulae. [Charles Kingsley, "Letters," 1861]

Mathematical use is from 1796; use in chemistry is from c.1846.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

formulae in Medicine



n. pl. for•mu•las

A symbolic representation of the chemical composition or of the chemical composition and structure of a compound.
The chemical compound so represented.
A prescription of ingredients in fixed proportion; a recipe.
A liquid food for infants, containing most of the nutrients in human milk.
A mathematical statement, especially an equation, of a fact, rule, principle, or other logical relation.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

formulae in Science



Plural formulas formulae (fôrmyə-lē′)

A set of symbols showing the composition of a chemical compound. A formula lists the elements contained within it and indicates the number of atoms of each element with a subscript numeral if the number is more than 1. For example, H2O is the formula for water, where H2 indicates two atoms of hydrogen and O indicates one atom of oxygen.
A set of symbols expressing a mathematical rule or principle. For example, the formula for the area of a rectangle is a = lw, where a is the area, l the length, and w the width.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.