Definition of formality in English:

formality

nounformalities

mass noun
  • 1The rigid observance of convention or etiquette.

    ‘the formality of life in an English public school’
    • ‘For Vera and her family, tea consoles; for the Wells and their set, it's a ceremony, observed like everything else, with rigid formality.’
    • ‘They were also the evolutionary years that bridged the gap between the rigid formality of the Edwardian styles and the ultimate changes that led to the knee-length dresses of 1926.’
    • ‘There are no traditional rules or rigid formality or fairy tale settings involving tormented love between a man and woman.’
    • ‘Do we not sense a paradox here, in such procedural sameness and rigid formality applied to nature's bounteous diversity?’
    • ‘Here, one must maintain discipline, proper etiquette, and formality.’
    • ‘Etiquette and formality are the antiquated attributes that make her readers swoon.’
    • ‘Undoubtedly the human animal in his/her social interactions feels safer when a certain degree of formality is observed.’
    • ‘Country house hotels promote this informal formality by eschewing hotel conventions such as reception desks and by ensuring that all drinks, meals and sundries are included in the per-night fee.’
    • ‘However, such benefits may come at a cost as a rigid formality may conflict with deeply held professional values such as autonomy, solidarity, flexibility, and a belief in tacit knowledge.’
    • ‘However, all are divided into different levels of formality depending on the social status of the person being addressed.’
    • ‘However, the general pattern of double dependence on social status and formality is maintained.’
    • ‘A new sweetness pervades daily life and replaces the coldness and formality of familial relationships under aristocracy.’
    • ‘‘That was the last era where there were rules of etiquette, when there was still an element of formality,’ Maggie says.’
    • ‘Rigid self-control went hand-in-hand with a precise and exacting formality.’
    • ‘‘We want to break down the formality, but retain high standards,’ Sankey explains.’
    • ‘Social interaction is governed by norms emphasizing respect and formality and marking age, gender, status, and class differences.’
    • ‘Michael did not suffer fools gladly and could seem aloof and distant at times, but this was his rather old-world formality.’
    • ‘Renowned for her light-hearted disregard of formality, kicking off her shoes and chewing gum at meetings, she is reputed to have removed her wig to break the tension during key meetings.’
    • ‘He travels frequently to remote places to absorb, notate and record rare indigenous musics, then transform them for the manicured formality of the Western concert hall.’
    • ‘On the other hand, expressions must have a minimal formality in order to be understandable at all.’
    1. 1.1Strictly conventional behaviour.
      ‘with disconcerting formality the brothers shook hands’
      • ‘Shirley was always disturbed by the formality he displayed in front of her brother, though she said nothing of it.’
      • ‘She stood with a rigid formality, but her eyes were vacant and her lips moved silently.’
      • ‘As a beginning teacher, I cultivated an ethos of formality and distance.’
      • ‘He bowed to her, in the distant formality of the rich, and then laughed as his hand caught on his sword, spoiling the movement.’
      • ‘She didn't like that - the way his sudden formality put distance between them.’
      ceremony, ceremoniousness, ritual, conventionality, red tape, protocol, decorum
      aloofness, reserve, remoteness, detachment, unapproachability, stand-offishness
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2usually formalitiescount noun A thing that is done simply to comply with convention, regulations, or custom.
      ‘legal formalities’
      • ‘In the past, customs regulations and formalities were cumbersome and this resulted in freight delays.’
      • ‘The bureaucratic red tape and formalities that one has to go through is the source of frustration to everyone who lives here.’
      • ‘Why all the formalities and petty regulations, if one is supposed to become free?’
      • ‘By the time we cleared immigration and customs formalities and took a van to Makkah it was past midnight.’
      • ‘However, he has to comply with certain formalities before he is entitled to enforce this right.’
      • ‘Legal formalities in accident cases should be simplified so that people will not turn away.’
      • ‘However, it would not be until the paper works and formalities are completed that these boats are sent home.’
      • ‘The details of the patent itself are being kept a closely guarded secret, pending completion of the legal formalities.’
      • ‘They may hold conventions, but these are mostly formalities to endorse a decision that the party bosses have made.’
      • ‘Was it simply the pressure to follow the formalities of the UN road?’
      • ‘They have never had to follow the rules and formalities normally required of border crossers.’
      • ‘Bob and Vic have not completed the entry paperwork formalities and have not registered as required.’
      • ‘After the formalities there was free admission to some of the rides with the mayor and his official party eagerly followed by local children.’
      • ‘It was a clinical but not brutal performance, one in which Hewitt did everything right, right down to the formalities at the end of the match.’
      • ‘Only after completing all these formalities can the supplier sell his goods to the industries at the CSEZ.’
      • ‘The formalities take just moments, and you are whisked aboard to be greeted by a cabin steward ready to take your hand luggage and show you to your suite.’
      • ‘Once I complete the formalities in Florida, I think I'll stay back a day or two and enjoy the weather.’
      • ‘However, the formalities were completed after a long wait of over nine hours at 7 on Sunday morning.’
      • ‘The clinics also did not fulfil the formalities required under the PNDT Act.’
      • ‘Refreshments were also served following the formalities of the evening.’
      official procedure, rule, regulation, convention, ritual, custom, matter of form, formal gesture
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    3. 1.3a formalitySomething done or happening as a matter of course and without question.
      ‘promotion looks a formality’
      • ‘The matter was only a formality for the members at the UDC as they are fully refunded by the Department of the Environment.’
      • ‘The question was merely a formality; the answer was obvious.’
      • ‘It was, in my case, mainly a formality, but a formality that raised important questions that I promised myself I would revisit someday.’
      • ‘And typically, these committee questionnaires are really a formality.’
      • ‘This nomination was seen as a formality by observers.’
      • ‘While this move was presented by Swapo as a procedural formality, observers agreed that it reflected strong internal differences.’
      • ‘The family drops by often; so much so, in fact, that knocking on the door is a formality they no longer observe.’
      • ‘That Iceland's team has been hewn from a nation of just 290,000 people is unlikely to encourage Vogts, who has proved already that overcoming the might of a small fishing community is no formality.’
      routine, routine practice, normal procedure
      matter of course, foregone conclusion, inevitability, certainty, racing certainty
      View synonyms

Origin

Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘accordance with legal rules or conventions’): from French formalité or medieval Latin formalitas, from formalis (see formal).

Pronunciation

formality

/fɔːˈmalɪti/