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    fore-brain (n.) — formic (adj.)

    fore-brain (n.)

    1846, from fore- + brain (n.).ETD fore-brain (n.).2

    forecasting (n.)

    late 14c., verbal noun from forecast (v.).ETD forecasting (n.).2

    forecast (v.)

    late 14c., "to scheme," from fore- "before" + casten in the sense of "contrive, plan, prepare" (late 14c.; see cast (v.)). Meaning "predict events" first attested late 15c. (cast (v.) "to perceive, notice" is from late 14c.). Related: Forecasting.ETD forecast (v.).2

    forecaster (n.)

    1630s, agent noun from forecast (v.).ETD forecaster (n.).2

    forecast (n.)

    early 15c., "forethought, prudence," probably from forecast (v.). Meaning "conjectured estimate of a future course" is from 1670s. A Middle English word for weather forecasting (also divination by reading signs in the clouds or weather) was aeromancy (late 14c.).ETD forecast (n.).2

    forecastle (n.)

    c. 1400 (mid-14c. as Anglo-French forechasteil), "short raised deck in the fore part of the ship used in warfare," from Middle English fore- "before" + Anglo-French castel "fortified tower" (see castle (n.)). In broader reference to the part of a vessel forward of the fore rigging, late 15c.; hence, generally, "section of a ship where the sailors live" (by 1840). Spelling fo'c'sle reflects sailors' pronunciation. If at the aft part of a ship, it was an afcastle.ETD forecastle (n.).2

    foreclose (v.)

    late 13c., from Old French forclos, past participle of forclore "exclude, shut out; shun; drive away" (12c.), from fors "out" (Modern French hors; from Latin foris "outside;" see foreign) + clore "to shut" (see close (v.)). Senses in English influenced by words in for- (which is partly synonymous with the Latin word) and spelling by a mistaken association with native fore-. Specific mortgage law sense is first attested 1728. Other Middle English for- words in which the same prefix figures include forjuggen "condemn, convict, banish;" forloinen "forsake, stray from," and forfeit. Related: Foreclosed; foreclosing.ETD foreclose (v.).2

    foreclosure (n.)

    1728, from foreclose + -ure.ETD foreclosure (n.).2

    fore-deck (n.)

    1560s, from fore- + deck (n.).ETD fore-deck (n.).2

    forefather (n.)

    "ancestor," c. 1300, from fore- + father (n.); perhaps modeled on or modified from Old Norse forfaðir. Similar formation in Dutch voorvader, German Vorvater, Danish forfædre (Old English had forð-fæder).ETD forefather (n.).2

    forefend (v.)

    see forfend.ETD forefend (v.).2

    forefinger (n.)

    mid-15c., from fore- + finger (n.). So called because it is considered the first next to the thumb. A Middle English name for it was lickpot (late 14c.).ETD forefinger (n.).2

    forefront (n.)

    "front part," late 15c., a Germanic-Latin hybrid, from fore- + front (n.). Originally of buildings, later of battles. The main modern sense ("foremost place in some scene of action") is from the military meaning "front rank of an army" (1510s).ETD forefront (n.).2

    foregoing (adj.)

    mid-15c., "preceding, antecedent, going before in time or place," present-participle adjective from forego. As a noun from 1660s.ETD foregoing (adj.).2

    forego (v.)

    "to go before," Old English foregan "to go before," from fore- + go (v.). Related: Foregoer, foregoing; foregone. Similar formation in Dutch voorgaan, German vorgehen, Danish foregaa.ETD forego (v.).2

    Phrase foregone conclusion echoes "Othello" [III.iii], but Shakespeare's sense was not necessarily the main modern one of "a decision already formed before the case is argued." Othello says it of Cassio's dream, and it is clear from the context that Othello means Cassio actually has been in bed with Desdemona before he allegedly dreamed it (the suspicion Iago is nourishing in him). In this case conclusion is probably meant in the sense of "final outcome," not that of "result of an examination."ETD forego (v.).3

    foreground (n.)

    1690s, "part of a landscape nearest the observer," from fore- + ground (n.). First used in English by Dryden ("Art of Painting"); compare Dutch voorgrond. Figurative use by 1816.ETD foreground (n.).2

    forehand (adj.)

    1879 in reference to a tennis stroke; 1909 as a noun in this sense; from fore- + hand (n.). Earlier it meant "position in front or above" (1550s); hence forehanded "prudent, careful of the future" (1640s), which came to mean "well-provided, well-to-do," a sense which lingered in New England into 19c.ETD forehand (adj.).2

    forehead (n.)

    Middle English forhed, from Old English forheafod "forehead, brow," from fore- + heafod (see head (n.)). Similar formation in Dutch voorhoofd, German Vorhaupt, Danish forhoved.ETD forehead (n.).2

    foreign (adj.)

    c. 1300, ferren, foran, foreyne, in reference to places, "outside the boundaries of a country;" of persons, "born in another country," from Old French forain "strange, foreign; outer, external, outdoor; remote, out-of-the-way" (12c.), from Medieval Latin foraneus "on the outside, exterior," from Latin foris (adv.) "outside," literally "out of doors," related to foris "a door" (from PIE *dhwor-ans-, suffixed form of root *dhwer- "door, doorway").ETD foreign (adj.).2

    English spelling altered 17c., perhaps by influence of reign, sovereign. Sense of "alien to one's nature, not connected with, extraneous" attested late 14c. Meaning "pertaining to another country" (as in foreign policy) is from 1610s. Replaced native fremd. Related: Foreignness. Old English had ælþeodig, ælþeodisc "foreign," a compound of æl- "foreign" + þeod "people."ETD foreign (adj.).3

    foreigner (n.)

    early 15c., foreyner; see foreign + -er (1).ETD foreigner (n.).2

    In American English from 1620s through mid-19c., however, it was used of a person from a different colony or state. Earlier as a noun in English was simple foreign (early 14c.), probably from Old French, which used the adjective as a noun meaning "foreigner;" also "outskirts; the outside world; latrine, privy." Spelling furriner, representing pronunciation, is from 1832, originally in Irish dialect pieces but by 1840s picked up by American dialect writers (Thomas Chandler Haliburton).ETD foreigner (n.).3

    foreknowledge (n.)

    "prescience," 1530s, from fore- + knowledge. Earlier in this sense was foreknowing (late 14c.), from foreknow "have previous knowledge of, know beforehand." Old English had forewitan, Middle English forwiten "to foreknow."ETD foreknowledge (n.).2

    foreleg (n.)

    late 15c., from fore- + leg (n.).ETD foreleg (n.).2

    forelock (n.)

    "lock of hair growing above the forehead," Old English forelocca "forelock;" see fore- + lock (n.2).ETD forelock (n.).2

    foreman (n.)

    early 13c., "a leader," from fore- + man (n.). From 1530s as "principal juror;" 1570s in the sense of "principal workman." Similar formation in Dutch voorman, German Vormann, Danish formand. Also in 17c., a slang word for "penis." Fem. form forewoman is from 1709, originally of a jury; forelady is from 1867 in reference to juries, 1888 of shops, American English.ETD foreman (n.).2

    foremast (n.)

    also fore-mast, the first actual mast of a vessel, or the mast fore of the main-mast, 1580s, from fore- + mast (n.1).ETD foremast (n.).2

    fore-mentioned (adj.)

    also forementioned, 1580s; see fore- + mention (v.). A verb foremention is attested only from 1650s. Old English had foremearcod in this sense.ETD fore-mentioned (adj.).2

    foremost (adj.)

    Middle English formest, from Old English fyrmest, formest "earliest, first, most prominent," from Proto-Germanic *furmista-/*frumista- (related to Old English fruma "beginning"), from PIE *pre-mo-, suffixed (superlative) form of root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through, in front of, before, first" + additional superlative suffix -est. For the -m-, see -most, and compare similarly formed Old Frisian formest, Gothic frumists. Altered on the assumption that it is a compound of fore and most. The same compound without the superlative -m- is first. Also in Old English as an adverb, "first of all, at first, in the first place."ETD foremost (adj.).2

    forename (n.)

    1530s, from fore- + name (n.). The equivalent of Latin praenomen. Old English had forenama. Middle English had fore-named in the sense "mentioned before" (c. 1200).ETD forename (n.).2

    forenoon (n.)

    "the morning," especially the latter part of it, when business is done, c. 1500, from fore- + noon.ETD forenoon (n.).2

    forensic (adj.)

    "pertaining to or suitable for courts of law," 1650s, with -ic + stem of Latin forensis "of a forum, place of assembly," related to forum "public place" (see forum). Later used especially in sense of "pertaining to legal trials," as in forensic medicine (1845). Related: Forensical (1580s).ETD forensic (adj.).2

    fore-ordain (v.)

    also foreordain, "arrange or plan beforehand," late 14c., probably modeled on Latin praeordinare; see fore- + ordain (v.). A hybrid word.ETD fore-ordain (v.).2

    fore-ordained (adj.)

    also foreordained, early 15c., for-ordenede, past pariticiple of for-ordeinen "to arrange or plan beforehand" (see fore-ordain).ETD fore-ordained (adj.).2

    forepart (n.)

    also fore-part, c. 1400, from fore- + part (n.).ETD forepart (n.).2

    foreplay (n.)

    by 1921 in sexual sense, from fore- + play (n.); Freud's Vorlust was translated earlier as fore-pleasure (Brill, 1910). A more direct translation from the German would be thwarted by the sense drift in English lust (n.). Earlier as a theatrical term:ETD foreplay (n.).2

    forerunner (n.)

    c. 1300, from fore- + runner. Middle English literal rendition of Latin praecursor, used in reference to John the Baptist as the forerunner of Christ. Old English had foreboda and forerynel.ETD forerunner (n.).2

    foresee (v.)

    Old English foreseon "have a premonition," from fore- "before" + seon "to see, see ahead" (see see (v.)). Perhaps modeled on Latin providere. Related: Foresaw; foreseeing; foreseen. Similar formation in Dutch voorzien, German vorsehen.ETD foresee (v.).2

    foreseeable (adj.)

    1804, from foresee + -able. Related: Foreseeably.ETD foreseeable (adj.).2

    foreshadow (v.)

    "indicate beforehand," 1570s, figurative, from fore- + shadow (v.); the notion seems to be a shadow thrown before an advancing material object as an image of something suggestive of what is to come. Related: Foreshadowed; foreshadowing. As a noun from 1831. Old English had forescywa "shadow," forescywung "overshadowing."ETD foreshadow (v.).2

    foreshorten (v.)

    c. 1600, from fore- + shorten. Related: Foreshortened; foreshortening.ETD foreshorten (v.).2

    foresight (n.)

    also fore-sight, early 14c., "insight obtained beforehand;" also "prudence," from fore- + sight (n.). Perhaps modeled on Latin providentia. Compare German Vorsicht "attention, caution, cautiousness."ETD foresight (n.).2

    foreskin (n.)

    1530s, from fore- + skin (n.). A loan-translation of Latin prepuce.ETD foreskin (n.).2

    forest (n.)

    late 13c., "extensive tree-covered district," especially one set aside for royal hunting and under the protection of the king, from Old French forest "forest, wood, woodland" (Modern French forêt), probably ultimately from Late Latin/Medieval Latin forestem silvam "the outside woods," a term from the Capitularies of Charlemagne denoting "the royal forest." This word comes to Medieval Latin, perhaps via a Germanic source akin to Old High German forst, from Latin foris "outside" (see foreign). If so, the sense is "beyond the park," the park (Latin parcus; see park (n.)) being the main or central fenced woodland.ETD forest (n.).2

    Another theory traces it through Medieval Latin forestis, originally "forest preserve, game preserve," from Latin forum in legal sense "court, judgment;" in other words "land subject to a ban" [Buck]. Replaced Old English wudu (see wood (n.)). Spanish and Portuguese floresta have been influenced by flor "flower."ETD forest (n.).3

    forest (v.)

    "cover with trees or woods," 1818 (forested is attested from 1610s), from forest (n.). The earlier word was afforest (c. 1500).ETD forest (v.).2

    forester (n.)

    late 13c. (late 12c. as a surname), "officer in charge of a forest," from Old French forestier "forest ranger, forest-dweller" (12c., also, as an adjective, "wild, rough, coarse, unsociable"), from forest (see forest (n.)).ETD forester (n.).2

    forestall (v.)

    late 14c. (implied in forestalling), "to lie in wait for;" also "to intercept goods before they reach public markets and buy them privately," which formerly was a crime (mid-14c. in this sense in Anglo-French), from Old English noun foresteall "intervention, hindrance (of justice); an ambush, a waylaying," literally "a standing before (someone)," from fore- "before" + steall "standing position" (see stall (n.1)). Modern sense of "to anticipate and delay" is from 1580s. Related: Forestalled; forestalling.ETD forestall (v.).2

    forestry (n.)

    1690s, "privilege of a royal forest," from forest (n.) + -ry or else from Old French foresterie, from forest (see forest (n.)). Meaning "science of managing forests" is from 1859.ETD forestry (n.).2

    foretaste (n.)

    early 15c., from fore- + taste (n.). As a verb, from mid-15c.ETD foretaste (n.).2

    foretell (v.)

    "predict, prophesy," c. 1300, from fore- + tell (v.). Related: Foretold; foretelling.ETD foretell (v.).2

    forethought (n.)

    early 14c., "a thinking beforehand, the act of planning," verbal noun from forethink "think of something beforehand," from Old English foreþencan "to premeditate, consider;" see fore- + think. Meaning "prudence, provident care" is from 1719.ETD forethought (n.).2

    foretime (n.)

    "a previous time," 1530s, from fore- + time (n.). Related: Foretimes.ETD foretime (n.).2

    forever (adv.)

    late 14c., for ever; from for + ever. Often written as one word from late 17c. As a noun by 1858. Emphatic forevermore is from 1819.ETD forever (adv.).2

    forewarn (v.)

    early 14c., from fore- + warn. Related: Forewarned; forewarning.ETD forewarn (v.).2

    foreword (n.)

    "introduction to a literary work," 1842, from fore- + word (n.); perhaps a loan-translation of German Vorwort "preface," modeled on Latin praefatio "preface."ETD foreword (n.).2

    forfeit (v.)

    mid-14c., " transgress, offend, misbehave;" late 14c., "to lose by misconduct," from forfeit (n.) or from Anglo-French forfet, Old French forfait, past participle of forfaire. Related: Forfeited; forfeits; forfeiting.ETD forfeit (v.).2

    forfeit (n.)

    late 14c., forfet, "misdeed, offense against established authority," also "something to which the right is lost through a misdeed," from Old French forfet, forfait "crime, punishable offense" (12c.), originally past participle of forfaire "transgress," from for- "outside, beyond" (from Latin foris; see foreign) + faire "to do" (from Latin facere "to make, do," from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). A French version of Medieval Latin foris factum; the notion perhaps is to "do too much, go beyond (what is right)." As an adjective from late 14c., from Old French forfait. Compare foreclose.ETD forfeit (n.).2

    forfeiture (n.)

    mid-14c., "loss of property as punishment for a crime, debt, etc.," from Old French forfaiture "crime, transgression; penalty for committing a crime" (12c.), from forfait (see forfeit (n.)).ETD forfeiture (n.).2

    forfend (v.)

    also forefend, late 14c., "to protect; to prohibit; to avert, fend off, prevent," a hybrid from for- + fend "to ward off." Archaic, if not obsolete.ETD forfend (v.).2

    forge (v.2)

    1769 (with an apparent isolated use from 1610s), "make way; move ahead slowly, with difficulty, or by mere momentum," a word of unknown origin, perhaps an alteration of force (v.), but perhaps rather from forge (n.), via the notion of steady hammering at something. Originally and properly nautical, in reference to vessels, and in nautical use also transitive (with on or over).ETD forge (v.2).2

    forge (v.1)

    early 14c., "to counterfeit" (a letter, seal, document, etc.), from Old French forgier "to forge, work (metal); shape, fashion; build, construct; falsify" (12c., Modern French forger), from Latin fabricari "to frame, construct, build," from fabrica "workshop" (see forge (n.)).ETD forge (v.1).2

    The literal meaning "to form (something) by heating in a forge and hammering" is from late 14c. in English.ETD forge (v.1).3

    The word also was used in Middle English of the minting of coins, so that by late 14c. it meant "issue good money." But it is attested earlier in the sense of "fabricate by false imitation," and by mid-14c. it was used in a general sense of "to plot, contrive":ETD forge (v.1).4

    It was extended to "issue spurious (paper) money" in modern times. Related: Forged; forging.ETD forge (v.1).5

    forge (n.)

    late 14c., "a smithy," from Old French forge "forge, smithy" (12c.), earlier faverge, from Latin fabrica "workshop, smith's shop," hence also "a trade, an industry;" also "a skillful production, a crafty device," from faber (genitive fabri) "workman in hard materials, smith" (see fabric).ETD forge (n.).2

    As the word for the heating apparatus itself (a furnace fitted with a bellows), from late 15c. Forge-water (1725), in which heated iron has been dipped, was used popularly as a medicine in 18c.ETD forge (n.).3


    obsolete past tense of forget.ETD forgat.2


    past tense of forgive (q.v.).ETD forgave.2

    forger (n.)

    late 14c. (early 14c. as a surname), "a maker, a smith," agent noun from forge (v.). Meaning "a counterfeiter, one who makes by false imitation" is from early 15c. In 15c. also "a maker of (coin) money." Another Middle English word for "a forger" was falsarie (mid-15c.).ETD forger (n.).2

    forgery (n.)

    1570s, "a thing made fraudulently," from forge (v.) + -ery. Meaning "act of counterfeiting" is 1590s. The literal sense of the verb tended to go with forging (late 14c. as "act of working on a forge," 1858 as "piece of work made on a forge").ETD forgery (n.).2

    forgetful (adj.)

    late 14c., from forget + -ful. A curious formation. Used in the sense "causing forgetting" from 1550s, but almost exclusively in poetry (Milton, Tennyson, etc.). An older word in this sense was Middle English forgetel, from Old English forgitel "forgetful," from a formation similar to that in Dutch vergetel. Related: Forgetfully; forgetfulness.ETD forgetful (adj.).2

    forget (v.)

    Old English forgietan "lose the power of recalling to the mind; fail to remember; neglect inadvertently," from for-, used here probably with privative force, "away, amiss, opposite" + gietan "to grasp" (see get (v.)). To "un-get," hence "to lose" from the mind. A common Germanic construction (compare Old Saxon fargetan, Old Frisian forjeta, Dutch vergeten, Old High German firgezzan, German vergessen "to forget"). The physical sense would be "to lose (one's) grip on," but that is not recorded in any historical Germanic language. Figurative sense of "lose care for" is from late 13c. Related: Forgetting; forgot; forgotten.ETD forget (v.).2

    forget-me-not (n.)

    the flowering plant (Myosotis palustris), 1530s, translating Old French ne m'oubliez mye; in 15c. the flower was supposed to ensure that those wearing it should never be forgotten by their lovers. Similar loan-translations took the name into other languages: German Vergißmeinnicht, Swedish förgätmigej, Hungarian nefelejcs, Czech nezabudka.ETD forget-me-not (n.).2

    forgettable (adj.)

    1827, from forget + -able. First attested in a translation from German by Carlyle.ETD forgettable (adj.).2

    forgiveness (n.)

    Old English forgiefnes, forgifennys "pardon, forgiveness, indulgence," from past participle of forgifan (see forgive) + -ness. Contracted from *forgiven-ness. Middle English had also forgift (early 14c.).ETD forgiveness (n.).2

    forgivable (adj.)

    1540s, from forgive + -able. Related: Forgivably.ETD forgivable (adj.).2

    forgive (v.)

    Old English forgiefan "give, grant, allow; remit (a debt), pardon (an offense)," also "give up" and "give in marriage" (past tense forgeaf, past participle forgifen); from for-, here probably "completely," + giefan "to give" (from PIE root *ghabh- "to give or receive").ETD forgive (v.).2

    The sense of "to give up desire or power to punish" (late Old English) is from use of such a compound as a Germanic loan-translation of Vulgar Latin *perdonare (Old Saxon fargeban, Dutch vergeven, German vergeben "to forgive," Gothic fragiban "to grant;" and see pardon (n.)). Related: Forgave; forgiven; forgiving.ETD forgive (v.).3

    forgiving (adj.)

    "inclined to forgive," 1680s, from present participle of forgive. Related: Forgivingness.ETD forgiving (adj.).2

    forgo (v.)

    "refrain from," Old English forgan "abstain from, leave undone, neglect," also "go or pass over, go away," from for- "away" + gan "go" (see go (v.)). Often, but less properly, forego. Related: Forgoing; forgone.ETD forgo (v.).2

    forgotten (adj.)

    early 15c., past-participle adjective from forget.ETD forgotten (adj.).2

    forked (adj.)

    c. 1300, "branched or divided in two parts," past-participle adjective from fork (v.). Of roads from 1520s; from 1550s as "pointing more than one way." In 16c.-17c. sometimes with a suggestion of "cuckold," on the notion of "horned." Forked tongue as a figure of duplicitous speech is from 1885, American English. Double tongue in the same sense is from 15c.ETD forked (adj.).2

    fork (n.)

    Old English forca, force "pitchfork, forked instrument, forked weapon," from a Germanic borrowing (Old Frisian forke, Dutch vork, Old Norse forkr, Danish fork) of Latin furca "two-pronged fork; pitchfork; fork used in cooking," a word of uncertain origin. Old English also had forcel "pitchfork." From c. 1200 as "forked stake or post" (as a gallows or prop).ETD fork (n.).2

    Table forks are said to have been not used among the nobility in England until 15c. and not common until early 17c. The word is first attested in this sense in English in an inventory from 1430, probably from Old North French forque (Old French furche, Modern French fourche), from the Latin word. Of rivers, from 1753; of roads, from 1839. As a bicycle part from 1871. As a chess attack on two pieces simultaneously by one (usually a knight), it dates from 1650s. In old slang, forks "the two forefingers" is from 1812.ETD fork (n.).3

    forkful (n.)

    1640s; see fork (n.) + -ful.ETD forkful (n.).2

    fork (v.)

    early 14c., "to divide in branches, go separate ways," also "disagree, be inconsistent," from fork (n.). Transitive meaning "raise or pitch with a fork" is from 1812. Related: Forked; forking. The slang verb phrase fork (something) over is from 1839 (fork out) "give over" is from 1831). Forking (n.) in the forensic sense "disagreement among witnesses" is from c. 1400.ETD fork (v.).2

    forklift (n.)

    also fork-lift, by 1953, short for fork-lift truck (1946), from fork (n.) + lift (n.).ETD forklift (n.).2

    forlorn (adj.)

    mid-12c., forloren "disgraced, depraved," past participle of obsolete forlesan "be deprived of, lose, abandon," from Old English forleosan "to lose, abandon, let go; destroy, ruin," from for- "completely" + leosan "to lose" (from Proto-Germanic *lausa-, from PIE root *leu- "to loosen, divide, cut apart"). In the Mercian hymns, Latin perditionis is glossed by Old English forlorenisse. OED's examples of forlese end in 17c., but the past participle persisted. Sense of "forsaken, abandoned" is 1530s; that of "wretched, miserable" first recorded 1580s.ETD forlorn (adj.).2

    A common Germanic compound (cognates: Old Saxon farilosan, Old Frisian urliasa, Middle Dutch verliesen, Dutch verliezen, Old High German virliosan, German verlieren, Gothic fraliusan "to lose").ETD forlorn (adj.).3

    In English now often in forlorn hope (1570s), which is a partial translation of Dutch verloren hoop, in which hoop means "troop, band," literally "heap," and the sense of the whole phrase is of a suicide mission. The phrase more often than not is used in English as if it meant "a faint hope," and the misuse has colored the meaning of forlorn. Related: Forlornly; forlornness.ETD forlorn (adj.).4

    formative (adj.)

    late 15c., from French formatif, from Latin format-, past-participle stem of formare "to form," from forma "form, shape" (see form (n.)). As a noun, in grammar, from 1816.ETD formative (adj.).2

    form (n.)

    c. 1200, forme, fourme, "semblance, image, likeness," from Old French forme, fourme, "physical form, appearance; pleasing looks; shape, image; way, manner" (12c.), from Latin forma "form, contour, figure, shape; appearance, looks; a fine form, beauty; an outline, a model, pattern, design; sort, kind condition," a word of unknown origin. One theory holds that it is from or cognate with Greek morphe "form, beauty, outward appearance" (see Morpheus) via Etruscan [Klein].ETD form (n.).2

    From c. 1300 as "physical shape (of something), contour, outline," of a person, "shape of the body;" also "appearance, likeness;" also "the imprint of an object." From c. 1300 as "correct or appropriate way of doing something; established procedure; traditional usage; formal etiquette." Mid-14c. as "instrument for shaping; a mould;" late 14c. as "way in which something is done," also "pattern of a manufactured object." Used widely from late 14c. in theology and Platonic philosophy with senses "archetype of a thing or class; Platonic essence of a thing; the formative principle." From c. 1300 in law, "a legal agreement; terms of agreement," later "a legal document" (mid-14c.). Meaning "a document with blanks to be filled in" is from 1855. From 1590s as "systematic or orderly arrangement;" from 1610s as "mere ceremony." From 1550s as "a class or rank at school" (from sense "a fixed course of study," late 14c.). Form-fitting (adj.) in reference to clothing is from 1893.ETD form (n.).3

    form (v.)

    c. 1300, formen, fourmen, "create, give life to, give shape or structure to; make, build, construct, devise," from Old French fourmer "formulate, express; draft, create, shape, mold" (12c.) and directly from Latin formare "to shape, fashion, build," also figurative, from forma "form, contour, figure, shape" (see form (n.)). From late 14c. as "go to make up, be a constituent part of;" intransitive sense "take form, come into form" is from 1722. Related: Formed; forming.ETD form (v.).2


    word-forming element meaning "-like, -shaped, in the form of," from French -forme and directly from Latin -formis "-like, shaped," from forma "form" (see form (n.)). Properly preceded by an -i-.ETD -form.2

    formable (adj.)

    late 14c., from form (v.) + -able, or from Late Latin formabilis.ETD formable (adj.).2

    formality (n.)

    1530s, "agreement as to form," from formal + -ity or else from French formalité (15c.) or Latin formitalitatem. Sense of "conformity to established rule" is from 1590s; meaning "something done for the sake of form" is from 1640s. Related: Formalities.ETD formality (n.).2

    formal (adj.)

    late 14c., "pertaining to form or arrangement;" also, in philosophy and theology, "pertaining to the form or essence of a thing," from Old French formal, formel "formal, constituent" (13c.) and directly from Latin formalis, from forma "a form, figure, shape" (see form (n.)). From early 15c. as "in due or proper form, according to recognized form," As a noun, c. 1600 (plural) "things that are formal;" as a short way to say formal dance, recorded by 1906 among U.S. college students.ETD formal (adj.).2

    formalize (v.)

    1590s, "give an appearance of being to," from formal + -ize. Meaning reduce to form" is from 1640s; sense of "render formal" is from 1855. Related: Formalized; formalizing.ETD formalize (v.).2

    formalism (n.)

    1840, "strict adherence to prescribed forms," from formal + -ism. Used over the years in philosophy, theology, literature, and art in various senses suggesting detachment of form from content, or spirituality, or meaning; or belief in the sufficiency of formal logic. Related: Formalist.ETD formalism (n.).2

    formally (adv.)

    late 14c., "in good form, in an orderly manner," also "by kind," from formal + -ly (2). Meaning "in prescribed or customary form" is from 1560s.ETD formally (adv.).2

    formaldehyde (n.)

    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).ETD formaldehyde (n.).2

    formalistic (adj.)

    1846; see formalism + -istic.ETD formalistic (adj.).2

    format (n.)

    1840, "shape and size" (of a book), via French format (18c.), ultimately from Modern Latin liber formatus "a book formed" in a certain shape and size, from past participle of formare "to form," from forma "form, shape" (see form (n.)). Extended to computers by 1955.ETD format (n.).2

    formation (n.)

    late 14c., "vital force in plants and animals;" early 15c., "act of creating or making," from Old French formacion "formation, fashioning, creation" (12c.) or directly from Latin formationem (nominative formatio) "a forming, shaping," noun of action or condition from past-participle stem of formare "to form," from forma "form, shape" (see form (n.)). Meaning that which is formed or created" is from 1640s. In geology, "group of rocks having a similar origin or character," 1815. Related: Formational.ETD formation (n.).2

    format (v.)

    "arrange into a format," 1964, in reference to electronic computing, from format (n.). Related: Formatted; formatting.ETD format (v.).2

    former (adj.)

    "earlier in time," mid-12c., comparative of forme "first, earliest in time or order," from Old English forma "first," from Proto-Germanic *fruma-, *furma-, from PIE *pre-mo-, suffixed (superlative) form of root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before, first." Probably patterned on formest (see foremost); it is an unusual case of a comparative formed from a superlative (the Old English -m is a superlative suffix). As "first of two," 1580s.ETD former (adj.).2

    former (n.)

    "one who gives form," mid-14c., agent noun from form (v.). The Latin agent noun was formator.ETD former (n.).2

    formerly (adv.)

    "in times past," 1580s, from former (adj.) + -ly (2). A Middle English word for this was andersith "formerly, at former times" (early 14c.).ETD formerly (adv.).2

    formication (n.)

    crawling sensation as of ants on the skin, 1707, from Latin formicationem (nominative formicatio), noun of action from formicare "to crawl like ants," from formica "ant" (see Formica (n.2)).ETD formication (n.).2

    formicant (adj.)

    "crawling like an ant," 1707, from Latin formicantem (nominative formicans), present participle of formicare (see formication).ETD formicant (adj.).2

    formic (adj.)

    1791 (in formic acid), literally "from ants," coined from Latin formica "ant" (see Formica (n.2)). The acid first was 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 nettles and bee stings.ETD formic (adj.).2

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