For·mal·i·ty n.; pl. Formalities
1. The condition or quality of being formal, strictly ceremonious, precise, etc.
2. Form without substance.
Such [books] as are mere pieces of formality, so that if you look on them, you look though them. --Fuller.
3. Compliance with formal or conventional rules; ceremony; conventionality.
Nor was his attendance on divine offices a matter of formality and custom, but of conscience. --Atterbury.
4. An established order; conventional rule of procedure; usual method; habitual mode.
He was installed with all the usual formalities. --C. Middleton.
5. pl. The dress prescribed for any body of men, academical, municipal, or sacerdotal. [Obs.]
The doctors attending her in their formalities as far as Shotover. --Fuller.
6. That which is formal; the formal part.
It unties the inward knot of marriage, . . . while it aims to keep fast the outward formality. --Milton.
7. The quality which makes a thing what it is; essence.
The material part of the evil came from our father upon us, but the formality of it, the sting and the curse, is only by ourselves. --Jer. Taylor.
The formality of the vow lies in the promise made to God. --Bp. Stillingfleet.
8. Scholastic. Philos. The manner in which a thing is conceived or constituted by an act of human thinking; the result of such an act; as, animality and rationality are formalities.
n : a requirement of etiquette or custom [syn: formality]