Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Topic: LINGUISTICS

Date: 1300-1400
Language: Latin
Origin: formalis, from forma; FORM1

formal

1 adjective
     
form‧al1 S2 W2
1PG

official

[usually before noun] made or done officially or publicly [≠ informal]:
formal recognition of the reformed church
a formal agreement between the countries
There is no formal structure for negotiating pay increases.
make/lodge a formal complaint
Mr Kelly has lodged a formal complaint against the police.
2

behaviour

formal behaviour is very polite, and is used in official or important situations, or with people you do not know well [≠ informal]:
Over the years, teaching methods have changed and become less formal.
3SL

language

formal language is used in official or serious situations [≠ informal]:
'Yours sincerely' is a formal way of ending a letter.
4D

event/occasion

a formal event is important, and people who go to it wear special clothes and behave very politely [≠ informal]:
I've met her twice but only on formal occasions.
a formal dinner
5

clothes

formal dress is clothing such as a tuxedo for men or a long dress for women, that is worn to formal events [≠ casual, informal]:
We insist on formal dress for dinner.
6

formal education/training/qualifications

SE education etc in a subject or skill, that you receive in a school, college etc rather than practical experience of it:
knowledge and wisdom gained from experience rather than from formal education
7

organized

done in a very organized way [≠ informal]:
The course includes formal lectures.
8

garden/park

a formal garden, park, or room is arranged in a very organized way [≠ informal]:
the palace's beautifully restored formal gardens
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