• (British) IPA: /ˈfɔːməlɪz(ə)m/
  • (America) IPA: /ˈfɔɹml̩ˌɪzm̩/



  1. Strict adherence to a given form of conduct, practice etc.
  2. (computing) One of several alternative computational paradigms for a given theory.
  3. (literature) An approach to interpretation and/or evaluation focused on the (usually linguistic) structure of a literary work rather than on the contexts of its origin or reception.
  4. (music) The tendency to elevate formal above expressive value in music, as in serialism.
  5. (mathematics, physics) A particular mathematical or scientific theory or description of a given state or effect.
    • 2011, Brian Cox (physicist) & Jeff Forshaw, The Quantum Universe, Allen Lane 2011, p. 54:
      Heisenberg seems to have been motivated by his intense annoyance that Schrödinger's more intuitive version of quantum theory was more widely accepted than his own, even though both formalisms led to the same results.
Related terms Translations
  • French: formalisme
  • German: Formalismus
  • Russian: формали́зм

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