Meaning of “form” in the English Dictionary

"form" in British English

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uk /fɔːm/ us /fɔːrm/

B2 [ I or T ] to begin to exist or to make something begin to exist:

A crowd formed around the accident.
A solution began to form in her mind.
I formed the impression (= the way she behaved suggested to me) that she didn't really want to come.

[ T ] to make something into a particular shape:

She formed the clay into a small bowl.

B1 [ L only + noun ] to make or be something:

The lorries formed a barricade across the road.
Together they would form the next government.
This information formed the basis of the report.

[ I ] formal If separate things form, they come together to make a whole:

The children formed into lines.

More examples

  • Research forms the predominant part of my job.
  • By forming a coalition, the rebels and the opposition parties defeated the government.
  • The prisoners formed a line against the wall.
  • A long queue had formed, snaking its way downstairs and out into the street.
  • A thick sheet of ice had formed over the water.


uk /fɔːm/ us /fɔːrm/

form noun (DOCUMENT)

A2 [ C ] a paper or set of papers printed with spaces in which answers to questions can be written or information can be recorded in an organized way:

an application form (= document used for asking officially for something, for example a job)
an entry form (= document used to enter a competition)
Please fill in/out the form with black ink.
When you have completed the form, hand it in at the desk.

More examples

  • Have you completed your application form yet?
  • I had to fill in this really complicated form.
  • On his form he lists his interests as cycling, the cinema and cooking.
  • Please write your credit card number on this form.
  • Take the forms into your local branch office.

form noun (TYPE)

B2 [ C ] a type of something:

Swimming is the best form of exercise.

More examples

  • Aerobics is one of the most stimulating forms of exercise.
  • Body language is a potent form of non-verbal communication.
  • Emma's only form of recreation seems to be shopping.
  • Bicycles are a cheap and efficient form of transport.
  • Simple forms of life have only one cell.

form noun (SHAPE)

C1 [ C ] the shape or appearance of something:

I could just about make out his sleeping form on the bed.
The moon highlighted the shadowy forms of the hills.
The lawn was laid out in the form of the figure eight.
take form

to gradually be seen or gradually develop:

Trees and hedges started to take form as the fog cleared.
As they chatted, the idea of going skiing together gradually took form.

More examples

  • She looked at Timothy's recumbent form beside her.
  • The song achieved a perfect unity between form and content.
  • The sculpture was inspired by natural forms.
  • He could see the form of a vehicle approaching in the distance.
  • The chairs were arranged in the form of circle.

form noun (ABILITY)

[ U ] A competitor's form is their ability to be successful over a period of time:

Both horses have shown good form over the last season.
After a bad year, she has regained her form.
be on good, great, etc. form C2 UK US be in good, great, etc. form

to be feeling or performing well:

Paul was on good form at the wedding and kept everyone entertained.

More examples

  • After the humiliation of last week's defeat, the Mets were back on form.
  • She's currently experiencing a dip in form.
  • The team are in unbeatable form.
  • Ashia Hansen rediscovered her best form with a morale-boosting win in the triple jump.
  • He has been struggling to regain his form after a series of defeats.

form noun (GRAMMAR)

B1 [ C ] specialized language one part of a verb or other word that has a special use or meaning:

The continuous form of "stand" is "standing".
"Stood" is the irregular past tense form of "stand".
"Hers" is the possessive form of "her".
"Isn't" is the short form of "is not".

More examples

  • the genitive form of a noun
  • the imperative form of the verb

(Definition of “form” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"form" in American English

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us /fɔrm/

form verb (COME TOGETHER)

[ I/T ] to come together and make a particular order or shape:

[ T ] Please form a single line.
[ T ] The geese flying overhead formed a V-shaped pattern.

form verb (BEGIN HAVING)

[ T ] to begin to have:

I formed the opinion that I was not really welcome there any more.

form verb (BEGIN)

[ T ] to begin something, esp. organizing people or things:

We formed a community group to help people who are sick or disabled.
They formed a new publishing company.

form noun (TYPE)

us /fɔrm/ [ C ] a type or kind of something, or the particular way in which something exists:

I was always more interested in poetry than in other forms of literature.
She has a mild form of the flu and should be OK in a few days.
The medicine comes in the form of a liquid or pills.


us /fɔrm/ [ C ] the shape or appearance of something:

The stadium was in the form of a circle.

form noun (DOCUMENT)

us /fɔrm/ [ C ] something, usually paper, that has spaces marked where you fill in information:

Fill out an application form and we will let you know if a job opens up.

form noun (ART/MUSIC)

literature /fɔrm/ [ C ] the organization, shape, and structure of a written work

art, music /fɔrm/ [ C ] Form in a work of art or piece of music is the design or arrangement of it that it shares with other works of the same type

form noun (BEHAVIOR)

us /fɔrm/ [ U ] the way in which someone does something:

He was in great form and won the golf tournament by 7 strokes.

(Definition of “form” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"form" in Business English

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formnoun [ C ]

uk /fɔːm/ us

also US blank a document printed with spaces in which to write answers or information:

fill in/out a form You will need to fill in form FW 20, available from your Social Security office.
You will be required to sign several forms.


uk /fɔːm/ us

[ I or T ] to create a company, organization, etc.:

form a business/company/firm They joined together to form their own garment company.
form a committee/agency/task force The council President formed the committee when the number of complaints jumped from around 50 per month to nearly 1,200.

[ T ] to develop a successful relationship with a person, organization, or country, especially for a particular purpose:

form a coalition/partnership/alliance A regional Latino business coalition was formed to seek ways to fight the measures.

(Definition of “form” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)