form


form
form n
1 Form, figure, shape, conformation, configuration are comparable when they denote the disposition or arrangement of content that gives a particular aspect or appearance to a thing as distinguished from the substance of which that thing is made.
Form is not only the most widely applicable of these terms, but it is also the least definitely fixed in its meaning, largely because of its being assigned various denotations in philosophy and aesthetics and because of its frequent use in reference to literature, music, and thought, where more is involved than the disposition or arrangement of content as immediately perceived by the senses. In general, form more than any of the other words implies reference to internal structure and disposition of details as well as to boundary lines and suggests unity in the whole
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the earth was without form, and void— Gen 1:2

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a sense of interdependence and interrelated unity that gave form to intellectual stirrings that had been previously inchoate— Dewey

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you might go in for building . . . you've got a feeling for formMary Austin

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Figure applies usually to the form as determined by the lines which bound or enclose a thing
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flowers have all exquisite figuresBacon

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The term also may often suggest the lines or sometimes the visible form characteristic of a kind or type
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Christ painted under the figure of a lamb

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because of the darkness it was hard to say whether the person had the figure of a man or of a woman

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or the lines which follow a more or less conventional pattern rather than represent something actual
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cut figures on the ice in skating

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{

decorate the border with figures of scrolls, circles, and crescents

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a rug design in geometrical figures

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Shape, like figure, suggests reference to the boundary lines, but it carries a stronger implication of a mass or of a body than does figure and is therefore precisely applicable to something that is shown in its bulk rather than in its lines; thus, one draws the figure rather than the shape of a circle or a triangle, but one forms a mass of clay in the shape in preference to the figure of a ball or of a man
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the color of his beard, the shape of his leg— Shak.

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Often, shape applies to outlines that have been given to a mass (as by molding, carving, or pressure)
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Brooke is a very good fellow, but pulpy; he will run into any mold, but he won't keep shapeGeorge Eliot

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it is the business of the sensitive artist in life to accept his own nature as it is, not to try to force it into another shapeHuxley

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Form, figure, and shape are also used in reference to the bodies of living creatures, especially of men and women. Form is perhaps the most shadowy of these terms; it is applied chiefly to persons or animals identified but not clearly seen or noted in detail
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the reddleman watched his form as it diminished to a speck on the road— Hardy

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{

busy forms bent over intolerable tasks, whizzing wheels, dark gleaming machinery— Bensony

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Figure usually suggests closer vision than form and some perception of details but stresses lines, carriage, and posture
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here and there a figure . . . leaned on the rail— Conrad

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they watched her white figure drifting along the edge of the grove— Cathery

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Shape differs little from figure except in its clearer suggestion of flesh and body
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some human shapes appearing mysteriously, as if they had sprung up from the dark ground— Conrad

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{

and the shade under the ash trees became deserted, save by the tall dark figure of a man, and a woman's white shapeGalsworthy

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Conformation stresses the structure of something as composed or fashioned of related or carefully adjusted parts or as constituting a harmonious whole; it carries only a slight suggestion of reference to the outer lines or shape
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beef steers of excellent conformation

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the conformation of the vocal organs

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Configuration emphasizes the disposition or arrangement of parts and the pattern that they form especially over an extent of space or territory
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the configuration of the county is represented in this relief map

}
{

the remarkable configuration of the Atlantic seabed— T. H. Huxley

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{

in every province there was a network of roads following the configuration of the country— Buchan

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Analogous words: contour, *outline, profile, silhouette: *structure, anatomy, framework, skeleton: organism, *system, economy, scheme
2 Form, formality, ceremony, ceremonial, rite, ritual, liturgy mean an established or fixed method of procedure especially as enjoined by law, the customs of social intercourse, or the church.
Form is the comprehensive term applicable to a recognized way of doing things in accordance with rule or prescription
{

observing the forms of polite society

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{

nothing could be worse form . .. than any display of temper in a public place— Wharton

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{

a transfer of property made in due form

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{

the occasional exercise of a beautiful form of worship— Irvingy

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Form often implies show without substance or suggests an outward shell devoid of its life or spirit
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for who would keep an ancient form through which the spirit breathes no more?— Tennyson

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Formality applies to some more or less perfunctory or conventional procedure required by law, custom, or etiquette
{

there was now and then the formality of saying a lesson— Lamb

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{

Mr. Critchlow entered without any formalities, as usualBennett

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The term often implies endless detail or red tape
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Outland was delayed by the formalities of securing his patent— Cather

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Ceremony is more specific than form and implies certain outward acts, usually of an impressive or dignified character, associated with some religious, public, or state occasion or, collectively, with a church or a court
{

the marriage ceremony

}
{

the ceremonies attending the coronation of a king

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Ceremony also applies to the conventional usages of civility
{

the appurtenance of welcome is . . . ceremonyShak.

}
{

you need not stand on ceremony

}
{

the beauty of an inherited courtesy of manners, of a thousand little ceremonies flowering out of the most ordinary relations and observances of life— Binyon

}
{

after the death of a king, a solemn ceremony of purification was performed by a princess— Frazer

}
Ceremonial (compare CEREMONIAL adj) is occasionally used in place of ceremony in its concrete applications; more often it is a collective noun applied to an entire system of ceremonies prescribed by a court or a church
{

the gorgeous ceremonial of the Burgundian court— Prescott

}
The last three terms of this group refer primarily to religious ceremonies and only secondarily to the ceremonies or forms of civil life.
A rite is the form prescribed by a church or other organization for conducting one of its ceremonies or, in the case of a church, for administering one of its sacraments, giving not only the words to be uttered but the acts to be performed
{

the marriage rite of the Church of England

}
{

the rite for the ordination of priests

}
Ritual is, in effect, a collective noun applied either to all the rites that make up an elaborate religious service or to all the rites or all the ceremonies of a particular church, religion, or organization; it is, however, applicable to a rite when that represents the one form in use in the specific religion or body
{

the ritual of the Roman Catholic Church is traditionally in Latin

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{

sacrifices, dances, mimetic games, processions, plays, ordeals, and feasting may enter into the ritual of primitive religions

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{

the ritual of a lodge

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Consequently, in extended use, rite and ritual both refer to the customary or established order of procedure for conducting not only a ceremony or a series of ceremonial acts, but all kinds of formalities or forms
{

Archer . . . went conscientiously through all the rites appertaining to a weekend at Highbank— Wharton

}
{

he knew well enough how it would be at the Hondo; the black-shawled women sitting against the wall, the ritual of bereavement, impressive in its poverty— Mary Austin

}
Liturgy applies primarily to the Eucharistic service, especially that of the Orthodox and the Uniate churches (specifically called "Divine Liturgy" in many of these) and of the Roman Catholic Church (specifically called the "Mass" in the Latin Church). In the Anglican Communion liturgy applies to the Book of Common Prayer, the service book of that church. It is applied also to a strictly religious rite or ritual, but this is confusing because rite and ritual stress the form to be followed and liturgy the complete service as followed in a particular church; thus, the Roman rite is now generally followed in the liturgy of that branch of the Roman Catholic Church called the Latin Church
{

he insisted on . . . the maintenance of full ritual in the liturgyBelloc

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Analogous words: proceeding, procedure, *process: practice, usage, custom, *habit: rule, regulation, precept, *law, canon: *method, mode: *decorum, propriety, etiquette
3 Form, usage, convention, convenance are comparable when they mean a fixed or accepted way of doing or sometimes of expressing something.
Form can apply to a prescribed or approved way of behaving, method of procedure, or technique in any sphere of activity where correctness or uniformity of method or manner is thought essential
{

the forms of good conduct

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the forms of worship

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good form in swimming

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a form of address

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Usage implies the sanction of precedent or tradition and often designates a form preserved out of respect for a class, profession, or religion
{

descriptions of usages presuppose descriptions of uses, that is, ways or techniques of doing the thing, the more or less widely prevailing practice of doing which constitutes the usageRyle

}
{

to bury in the first furrow certain fruits of a particular structure, such as figs, pomegranates, and locust beans, is a usage frequently observed— Frazer

}
Convention often replaces form especially in application to social behavior, where it stresses general agreement and therefore applies to some set way of doing or saying something that is sanctioned or believed to be sanctioned by general unquestioning acceptance
{

this music followed conventions perfectly understood by the contemporaries— P. H. Lang

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certain parliamentary conventions which exist to supplement the rules of procedure— May

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{

this genius who was too wild and elemental ever to conform to any aesthetic conventionLedig-Rowohlty

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Convenance is a somewhat literary word applied to social conventions especially regarded as essential to propriety or decorum
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disregarding the social convenances, continued to chatter on— Richard Hull

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{

the convenances of life— Benson

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form vb *make, shape, fashion, fabricate, manufacture, forge
Analogous words: devise, contrive (see corresponding nouns at DEVICE): *invent, create: produce, turn out (see BEAR): design, project, scheme, plan, plot (see under PLAN n): organize, *found, establish

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Form — (de) …   Kölsch Dialekt Lexikon

  • form — form·abil·i·ty; form·able; form·ably; form·al·de·hyde; form·amide; form·am·i·dine; form·a·zan; form·ful; form·ism; form·ist; form·less; Form·var; for·nic·i·form; fos·si·form; fo·ve·i·form; fruc·ti·form; fun·gi·form; fun·nel·form; fur·ci·form;… …   English syllables

  • Form — • The original meaning of the term form, both in Greek and Latin, was and is that in common use • eidos, being translated, that which is seen, shape, etc., with secondary meanings derived from this, as form, sort, particular, kind, nature… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Form — may mean: *Form, the shape, appearance, or configuration, of an object *Form (furniture), a long seat or bench without a back *Form (education), a class, set or group of students *Form, a shallow depression or flattened nest of grass used by a… …   Wikipedia

  • Form — (f[=o]rm; in senses 8 & 9, often f[=o]rm in England), n. [OE. & F. forme, fr. L. forma; cf. Skr. dhariman. Cf. {Firm}.] 1. The shape and structure of anything, as distinguished from the material of which it is composed; particular disposition or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Form — (Lehnwort von lat. forma) bezeichnet: Gestalt, die Art und Weise, wie etwas ist oder sich verändert im Sport die körperliche Verfassung eines Menschen, siehe Fitness Form (Kampfkunst), ein feststehender Bewegungsablauf in den Naturwissenschaften… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • form — n 1: the structure of something (as a document) as distinguished from its matter a defect in form, not substance 2: established procedure according to rule or practice see also form of action 3: a printed or typed document with blank spaces for… …   Law dictionary

  • Form 8-K — is a report required to be filed by public companies with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission pursuant to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. After a significant event like bankruptcy or departure of a CEO, a public… …   Wikipedia

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  • Form — Form, v. i. 1. To take a form, definite shape, or arrangement; as, the infantry should form in column. [1913 Webster] 2. To run to a form, as a hare. B. Jonson. [1913 Webster] {To form on} (Mil.), to form a lengthened line with reference to (any… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English


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