› 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.