formality for‧mal‧i‧ty [fɔːˈmælti ǁ fɔːr-] noun formalities PLURALFORM [countable usually plural] LAW
1. something formal or official that you have to do so that a process can be completed properly:

• immigration and customs formalities

• Certain formalities have to be completed before the legal transfer can take effect.

2. a formality something that has to be done for official reasons but will not have any real effect on something that has already been planned or agreed:

• It will only be a formality to renew the agreement on a long-term basis.

• Although the sale still requires the approval of the Chinese government, such approval is a mere formality.

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formality UK US /fɔːˈmæləti/ noun (plural formalities)
[C] something official that must be done before something else can happen or be done: »

It is essential to observe all the formalities when setting up a business.

complete/go through the formalities (of sth) »

This should be a means of injecting share capital into a company without going through the formalities of a share issue.


Approval of the documents is a legal formality.

[C, usually singular] something that must be done but that is unlikely to affect an agreement that has already been made: little more than/only/merely a formality »

There are still some details to be sorted out, but I believe it's only a formality.


Background checks often are a mere formality in the hiring process.

[U] formal writing, behaviour, etc. that is suitable in important or official situations: »

The bank says its business overdrafts are arranged with a minimum of formality and fuss.

Financial and business terms. 2012.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Formality — For*mal i*ty, n.; pl. {Formalities}. [Cf. F. formalit[ e].] 1. The condition or quality of being formal, strictly ceremonious, precise, etc. [1913 Webster] 2. Form without substance. [1913 Webster] Such [books] as are mere pieces of formality, so …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • formality — formality, formalism The first is the ordinary noun corresponding to formal: formality is primarily the observance of rules and conventions, a formality is something that has to be done by convention (often with implications of superfluousness:… …   Modern English usage

  • formality — [n1] convention, custom academism, ceremony, convenance, conventionality, form, gesture, liturgy, matter of form*, officialism, procedure, red tape*, rite, ritual, rituality, rubric, rule, service, solemnity, solemnness, stereotype, tradition;… …   New thesaurus

  • formality — ► NOUN (pl. formalities) 1) the rigid observance of rules or convention. 2) a thing done simply to comply with convention or regulations. 3) (a formality) a thing done or occurring as a matter of course; an inevitability …   English terms dictionary

  • formality — I noun ceremonial rite, ceremoniousness, ceremony, convention, conventionality, correctness, custom, decorum, established mode, etiquette, formalness, observance of form, outward form, prescribed form, propriety, punctilio, rigidity, rigidness,… …   Law dictionary

  • formality — (n.) 1530s, agreement as to form, from M.Fr. formalité (15c.) or directly from L. formalis formal (see FORMAL (Cf. formal)). Originally literary form; meaning something done for the sake of form is from 1590s. Related: Formalities …   Etymology dictionary

  • formality — *form, ceremony, ceremonial, rite, liturgy, ritual Analogous words: convention, convenance, usage, *form: practice, custom, *habit, use, wont …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • formality — [fôr mal′ə tē] n. [Fr formalité] 1. the quality or state of being formal; specif., a) a following or observing of prescribed customs, rules, ceremonies, etc.; propriety b) careful or too careful attention to order, regularity, precision, or… …   English World dictionary

  • formality — noun 1 action that is necessary according to custom/law ADJECTIVE ▪ mere ▪ Your acceptance into the club will be a mere formality. ▪ customs, legal (both esp. BrE) VERB + FORMALITY ▪ …   Collocations dictionary

  • formality — for|mal|i|ty [ fɔr mæləti ] noun * 1. ) count usually plural something that must be done as part of an official process or that you are expected to do in a social situation: We went through the usual formalities at customs and passport control.… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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