formaldehyde (n.) Look up formaldehyde at
pungent gas formed by oxidation of methyl alcohol, 1869, a contraction of formic aldehyde; see formic + aldehyde. Discovered in 1863 by German chemist August Wilhelm von Hofmann (1818-1892).
formalism (n.) Look up formalism at
1840, "strict adherence to prescribed forms," from formal + -ism. Attested from 1943 in reference to the Russian literary movement (1916-30). Related: Formalist; formalistic.
formality (n.) Look up formality at
1530s, "agreement as to form," from Middle French formalité (15c.) or directly from Latin formalis "formal" (see formal). Originally "literary form;" meaning "something done for the sake of form" is from 1590s. Related: Formalities.
formalize (v.) Look up formalize at
1590s, from formal + -ize. Related: Formalized; formalizing.
formally (adv.) Look up formally at
c.1400, "in good form," from formal + -ly (2). Meaning "in prescribed or customary form" is from 1560s.
format (v.) Look up format at
used chiefly of computers, 1964, from format (n.). Related: Formatted; formatting.
format (n.) Look up format at
1840, via French format (18c.), ultimately from Modern Latin liber formatus "a book formed" (in such and such a way), referring to shape, size; from past participle of formare "to form" (see form (v.)).
formation (n.) Look up formation at
late 14c., from Old French formacion (12c.) or directly from Latin formationem (nominative formatio) "a forming, shaping," noun of action or condition from past participle stem of formare "to form" (see form (v.)).
formative (adj.) Look up formative at
late 15c., from Middle French formatif, from Latin format-, past participle stem of formare (see form (n.)).
former (adj.) Look up former at
"earlier in time," mid-12c., comparative of forme "first," patterned on formest "foremost" (see foremost). An unusual case of a comparative formed from a superlative (the -m- is a superlative element).
former (n.) Look up former at
"one who gives form," mid-14c., agent noun from form (v.).
formerly (adv.) Look up formerly at
1580s, from former + -ly (2). A Middle English word for this was andersith "formerly, at former times" (early 14c.).
formic (adj.) Look up formic at
1791 (in formic acid), coined from Latin formica "ant" (see Formica (n.2)). The acid apparently first was noticed by Samuel Fisher and John Wray in 1670; it was first obtained in a fairly pure form in 1749 by German chemist Andreas Sigismund Marggraf (1709-1782), who prepared it by distilling red ants. It also is found in bee stings and stinging nettles.
Formica (1) Look up Formica at
proprietary name (1922), originally manufactured by Formica Insulation Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S. (founded 1913). According to the company, the material (originally marketed as an industrial insulator) was so called because it could be used for mica, i.e., in place of mica, a more expensive natural insulator. Primarily used in consumer goods since c.1945.
Formica (2) Look up Formica at
ant genus, 1865, from Latin formica "ant," dissimilated from PIE *morwi- "ant" (cognates: Sanskrit vamrah "ant," Greek myrmex, Old Church Slavonic mraviji, Old Irish moirb, Old Norse maurr, Welsh myrion; and compare pismire).
formicary (n.) Look up formicary at
"ant nest," 1816, from Medieval Latin formicarium, from Latin formica "ant" (see Formica (n.2)).
formication (n.) Look up formication at
crawling sensation as of ants on the skin, 1707, from Latin formicationem, noun of action from formicare "to crawl like ants," from formica "ant" (see Formica (n.2)).
formidable (adj.) Look up formidable at
mid-15c., from Middle French formidable (15c.), from Latin formidabilis "causing fear, terrible," from formidare "to fear," from formido "fearfulness, fear, terror, dread." Related: Formidably.
formless (adj.) Look up formless at
1590s, from form (n.) + -less. Related: Formlessly; formlessness.
Formosa Look up Formosa at
old name of Taiwan, given by Portuguese, from Portuguese Formosa insula "beautiful island," from fem. of Latin formosus "beautiful, handsome, finely formed," from forma (see form (n.)).
formula (n.) Look up formula at
1630s, "words used in a ceremony or ritual," from Latin formula "form, draft, contract, regulation; rule, method, formula," literally "small form," diminutive of forma "form" (see form (n.)).

Modern sense is colored by Carlyle's use (1837) of the word for "rule slavishly followed without understanding" [OED].
Men who try to speak what they believe, are naked men fighting men quilted sevenfold in formulae. [Charles Kingsley, "Letters," 1861]
Mathematical use is from 1796; use in chemistry is from c.1846.
formulae Look up formulae at
plural of formula.
formulaic (adj.) Look up formulaic at
1882, from formula + -ic.
formular (n.) Look up formular at
1560s, from Latin formula (see formula) + -ar. As an adjective, from 1773.
formulary (n.) Look up formulary at
1540s, from French formulaire "collection of formulae," from Latin formularius from formula (see formula).
formulate (v.) Look up formulate at
1860, "to express in a formula," from formula + -ate. Related: Formulated; formulating.
formulation (n.) Look up formulation at
1876, from formulate + -ion.
Fornax (n.) Look up Fornax at
goddess of ovens in ancient Rome, from Latin fornax "furnace, oven, kiln" (see furnace). The dim constellation (representing a chemical furnace) was added by de Lacaille in 1756.
fornicate (v.) Look up fornicate at
1550s, from Late Latin fornicatus, past participle of fornicari (see fornication). Perhaps in some cases a back-formation from fornication. Related: Fornicated; fornicating.
fornication (n.) Look up fornication at
c.1300, from Old French fornicacion (12c.), from Late Latin fornicationem (nominative fornicatio), noun of action from past participle stem of fornicari "fornicate," from Latin fornix (genitive fornicis) "brothel" (Juvenal, Horace), originally "arch, vaulted chamber" (Roman prostitutes commonly solicited from under the arches of certain buildings), from fornus "oven of arched or domed shape." Strictly, "voluntary sex between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman;" extended in the Bible to adultery.
fornicator (n.) Look up fornicator at
late 14c., from Late Latin fornicator, agent noun from fornicat-, stem of fornicari (see fornication).
fornix (n.) Look up fornix at
1680s, from Latin fornix "arch, vaulted chamber" (see fornication).
forsake (v.) Look up forsake at
Old English forsacan "object to, decline, oppose, refuse, deny," from for- "completely" + sacan "to deny, refuse" (see sake). Related: Forsaking.
forsaken (adj.) Look up forsaken at
mid-13c., past participle adjective from forsake. Related: Forsakenly.
forsook Look up forsook at
past tense of forsake.
forsooth (adv.) Look up forsooth at
Old English forsoð "indeed, verily," from for-, perhaps here with intensive force (or else the whole might be "for a truth"), + soð "truth" (see sooth).
forswear (v.) Look up forswear at
Old English forswerian "swear falsely," also "abandon or renounce on oath," from for- "completely" + swerian "to swear." Related: Forswore; forsworn; forswearing.
forsworn (adj.) Look up forsworn at
from Old English forsworenne, past participle of forswerian (see forswear).
forsythia (n.) Look up forsythia at
1814, coined 1805 in Modern Latin as a genus name in honor of William Forsyth (1737-1804), Scottish horticulturalist who brought the shrub from China. The family name is from Gaelic Fearsithe "man of peace."
fort (n.) Look up fort at
mid-15c., "fortified place, stronghold," from Middle French fort, from noun use in Old French of fort (adj.) "strong, fortified" (10c.), from Latin fortis "strong, mighty, firm, steadfast," from Old Latin forctus, possibly from PIE root *bhergh- (2) "high, elevated," with derivatives referring to hills and hill-forts (cognates: Sanskrit brmhati "strengthens, elevates," Old High German berg "hill;" see barrow (n.2)).
Fort Sumter Look up Fort Sumter at
military installation in South Carolina, U.S., begun in 1827, named for U.S. Revolutionary War officer and Congressman Thomas Sumter (1734-1832), "The Carolina Gamecock." The family name is attested from 1206, from Old French sommetier "driver of a pack horse" (see sumpter).
forte (n.) Look up forte at
1640s, from French fort "strong point (of a sword blade)," also "fort," from Middle French fort (see fort). Meaning "strong point of a person" is from 1680s. Final -e- added 18c. in imitation of Italian forte "strong."
forte (adj.) Look up forte at
music instruction, "loud, loudly," from Italian forte, literally "strong," from Latin fortis "strong" (see fort).
forth (adv.) Look up forth at
Old English forð "forward, onward, further, continually," perfective of fore, from Proto-Germanic *furtha- (cognates: Old Frisian, Old Saxon forth "forward, onward," Old Norse forð, Dutch voort, German fort), from PIE *prto-, from *pr-, from root *per- (1) "forward, through" (see per).
forthcoming (adj.) Look up forthcoming at
"about to happen," 1530s; earlier was Old English forðcuman "to come forth, come to pass;" see forth + come (v.). Meaning "informative, responsive" is from 1835.
forthright (adj.) Look up forthright at
Old English forðriht "direct, plain;" see forth + right. Related: Forthrightly; forthrightness.
forthwith Look up forthwith at
c.1200 (prep); early 14c. (adv.), from forth + with. The Old English equivalent was forð mid.
forties (n.) Look up forties at
1843 as the years of someone's life between 40 and 49; from 1840 as the fifth decade of years in a given century. See forty. Also a designation applied in various places and times to certain oligarchies, ruling classes, or governing bodies.
It is well known that society in the island [Guernsey] is, or perhaps we ought to say, for many years was, divided into two sets, called respectively the Sixties and the Forties, the former composed of the old families and those allied to them, the latter of families of newly-acquired wealth and position. ["The Dublin Review," October 1877]
Roaring Forties are rough parts of the ocean between 40 and 50 degrees latitude.
fortieth (adj.) Look up fortieth at
Old English feowertigoða, from feowertig (see forty) + -th (1). Compare Old Norse fertugonde, Swedish fyrationde, Danish fyrretyvende.
fortification (n.) Look up fortification at
early 15c., "strengthening," also "defensive earthworks, tower" (mid-15c.), from Middle French fortification "strengthening, fortification," from Late Latin fortificationem (nominative fortificatio), noun of action from past participle stem of fortificare (see fortify).