Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “formal”

See all translations

formal

adjective  /ˈfɔr·məl/ us  
using an agreed and often official or traditional way of doing things: There are formal procedures for applying to become a US citizen. If a social occasion is formal, you wear traditional or very good clothes: It was a formal affair, and men were supposed to wear dark suits or tuxedos. Formal language is the language used esp. in writing in situations that are official and which is often more difficult than the language used in ordinary conversation. Formal education/training is the learning of a subject or skill from courses in a school: His formal education ended at the sixth grade, but he became a millionaire at the age of thirty.

formal

noun [C]  /ˈfɔr·məl/ us  
a dance at which women wear fashionable, expensive dresses and men wear tuxedos or similar clothes
(Definition of formal from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of formal?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “formal” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

christmassy

typical of Christmas, or happy because it is Christmas

Word of the Day

Cleavage proves divisive in Cambridge’s words of 2014

by Alastair Horne,
December 19, 2014
​​​​ Other dictionaries may choose faddish novelties as their words of the year, but here at Cambridge, we like to do something different. We look for the words that have seen sudden surges in searches over the course of the year – words that have been baffling users of English and driven them

Read More 

tweleb noun

December 22, 2014
informal a Twitter celebrity; (more specifically, someone who has more than 1,000 followers on Twitter) There were a few old and a few new faces, including a tweleb or two. Expect to see and hear more from these cool kids.

Read More