verb (used with object), for·mu·lat·ed, for·mu·lat·ing.

to express in precise form; state definitely or systematically: He finds it extremely difficult to formulate his new theory.
to devise or develop, as a method, system, etc.
to reduce to or express in a formula.

Origin of formulate

First recorded in 1855–60; formul(a) + -ate1
Related formsfor·mu·la·ble [fawr-myuh-luh-buhl] /ˈfɔr myə lə bəl/, adjectivefor·mu·la·tion, nounfor·mu·la·tor, nounnon·for·mu·la·tion, nounpre·for·mu·late, verb (used with object), pre·for·mu·lat·ed, pre·for·mu·lat·ing.pre·for·mu·la·tion, nounun·for·mu·lat·ed, adjectivewell-for·mu·lat·ed, adjective

Synonyms for formulate Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for formulate

Contemporary Examples of formulate

Historical Examples of formulate

  • "I haven't had time to formulate my ideas yet," Hewson urged.

    Questionable Shapes

    William Dean Howells

  • He did not formulate the law in clear, set terms and moralise about it.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • Before he could formulate a plan of action, the manape pressed the fatal button.

    The Mind Master

    Arthur J. Burks

  • "Oh, it's too soon to formulate anything," he told her, with prepared readiness.

    The Market-Place

    Harold Frederic

  • It may be helpful to formulate the common or lay interpretation of thoroughness.

    College Teaching

    Paul Klapper

British Dictionary definitions for formulate


verb (tr)

to put into or express in systematic terms; express in or as if in a formula
to devise
Derived Formsformulator, noun
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 formulate

1860, "to express in a formula," from formula + -ate. Related: Formulated; formulating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper