formable, adj.formably, adv.
/fawrm/, n.
1. external appearance of a clearly defined area, as distinguished from color or material; configuration: a triangular form.
2. the shape of a thing or person.
3. a body, esp. that of a human being.
4. a dummy having the same measurements as a human body, used for fitting or displaying clothing: a dressmaker's form.
5. something that gives or determines shape; a mold.
6. a particular condition, character, or mode in which something appears: water in the form of ice.
7. the manner or style of arranging and coordinating parts for a pleasing or effective result, as in literary or musical composition: a unique form for the novel.
8. Fine Arts.
a. the organization, placement, or relationship of basic elements, as lines and colors in a painting or volumes and voids in a sculpture, so as to produce a coherent image; the formal structure of a work of art.
b. three-dimensional quality or volume, as of a represented object or anatomical part.
c. an object, person, or part of the human body or the appearance of any of these, esp. as seen in nature: His work is characterized by the radical distortion of the human form.
9. any assemblage of things of a similar kind constituting a component of a group, especially of a zoological group.
10. Crystall. the combination of all the like faces possible on a crystal of given symmetry.
11. due or proper shape; orderly arrangement of parts; good order.
12. Philos.
a. the structure, pattern, organization, or essential nature of anything.
b. structure or pattern as distinguished from matter.
c. (cap.) Platonism. idea (def. 7c).
d. Aristotelianism. that which places a thing in its particular species or kind.
13. Logic. the abstract relations of terms in a proposition, and of propositions to one another.
14. a set, prescribed, or customary order or method of doing something.
15. a set order of words, as for use in religious ritual or in a legal document: a form for initiating new members.
16. a document with blank spaces to be filled in with particulars before it is executed: a tax form.
17. a typical document to be used as a guide in framing others for like cases: a form for a deed.
18. a conventional method of procedure or behavior: society's forms.
19. a formality or ceremony, often with implication of absence of real meaning: to go through the outward forms of a religious wedding.
20. procedure according to a set order or method.
21. conformity to the usages of society; formality; ceremony: the elaborate forms prevalent in the courts of renaissance kings.
22. procedure or conduct, as judged by social standards: Such behavior is very bad form. Good form demands that we go.
23. manner or method of performing something; technique: The violin soloist displayed tremendous form.
24. physical condition or fitness, as for performing: a tennis player in peak form.
25. Gram.
a. a word, part of a word, or group of words forming a construction that recurs in various contexts in a language with relatively constant meaning. Cf. linguistic form.
b. a particular shape of such a form that occurs in more than one shape. In I'm, 'm is a form of am.
c. a word with a particular inflectional ending or other modification. Goes is a form of go.
26. Ling. the shape or pattern of a word or other construction (distinguished from substance).
27. Building Trades. temporary boarding or sheeting of plywood or metal for giving a desired shape to poured concrete, rammed earth, etc.
28. a grade or class of pupils in a British secondary school or in certain U.S. private schools: boys in the fourth form.
29. Brit. a bench or long seat.
30. Also, Brit., forme. Print. an assemblage of types, leads, etc., secured in a chase to print from.
31. to construct or frame.
32. to make or produce.
33. to serve to make up; serve as; compose; constitute: The remaining members will form the program committee.
34. to place in order; arrange; organize.
35. to frame (ideas, opinions, etc.) in the mind.
36. to contract or develop (habits, friendships, etc.).
37. to give form or shape to; shape; fashion.
38. to give a particular form or shape to; fashion in a particular manner: Form the dough into squares.
39. to mold or develop by discipline or instructions: The sergeant's job was to form boys into men.
40. Gram.
a. to make (a derivation) by some grammatical change: The suffix "-ly" forms adverbs from adjectives.
b. to have (a grammatical feature) represented in a particular shape: English forms plurals in "-s".
41. Mil. to draw up in lines or in formation.
42. to take or assume form.
43. to be formed or produced: Ice began to form on the window.
44. to take a particular form or arrangement: The ice formed in patches across the window.
[1175-1225; ME forme < OF < L forma form, figure, model, mold, sort, ML: seat]
Syn. 1. mold, cast, cut. FORM, FIGURE, OUTLINE, SHAPE refer to an appearance that can be recognized. FORM, FIGURE, and SHAPE are often used to mean an area defined by contour without regard to other identifying qualities, as color or material. OUTLINE refers to the line that delimits a form, figure, or shape: the outline of a hill. FORM often includes a sense of mass or volume: a solid form. SHAPE may refer to an outline or a form: an "S" shape; a woman's shape. FIGURE often refers to a form or shape determined by its outline: the figure eight. FORM and SHAPE may also be applied to abstractions: the shape or form of the future.
FORM is applied to physical objects, mental images, methods of procedure, etc.; it is a more inclusive term than either SHAPE or FIGURE: the form of a cross, of a ceremony, of a poem. 5. model, pattern, jig. 9. sort, kind, order, type. 14. ceremony, ritual, formula, formality, rule. 16. blank. 19, 20. system, mode, practice, formula. 31. model, fabricate, mold, forge, cast, outline. 32. create. 34. systematize, dispose. 39. teach, educate, train.
Ant. 1. substance.

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In the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle the active, determining principle of a thing.

The term was traditionally used to translate Plato's eidos, by which he meant the permanent reality that makes a thing what it is, in contrast to the particulars that are finite and subject to change. Each form is the pattern of a particular category of thing in the world; thus, there are forms of human, stone, shape, colour, beauty, and justice.Whereas the physical world, perceived with the senses, is in constant flux and knowledge derived from it restricted and variable, the realm of forms, apprehensible only by the mind, is eternal and changeless. Particular things derive what reality they have by "participating" in, or imperfectly copying, the forms. Aristotle rejected the abstract Platonic notion of form and argued that every sensible object consists of both matter and form, neither of which can exist without the other. For Aristotle, the matter of a thing consists of those of its elements which, when the thing has come into being, may be said to have "become" it; the form of a thing is the arrangement or organization through which such elements have become the thing in question. Thus a certain lump of bronze is the matter that, given a certain form, becomes a statue or, given another, becomes a sword. The Aristotelian concept of form was adapted and developed by St. Thomas Aquinas and other scholastic philosophers. The Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant used the notion of form to describe the mentally imposed conditions of sensible experience, namely space and time.

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      in crystallography, all crystal faces having similar symmetry. Those forms that enclose space are called closed forms; those that do not, open forms. The faces that comprise a form will be similar in appearance, even though of different shapes and sizes; this similarity may be evident from natural striations, etchings, or growths, or it may be apparent only after etching with acid.

      The forms in all crystal systems except the isometric are similar and may be generally described as follows:

● Pedion: a single face;
● Pinacoid: pair of opposite faces parallel to two of the principal crystallographic axes;
● Dome: two nonparallel faces symmetrical to a plane of symmetry;
● Sphenoid: two nonparallel faces symmetrical to a 2- or 4-fold axis of symmetry;
● Disphenoid: four-faced closed form in which the two faces of a sphenoid alternate above two faces of another sphenoid;
● Prism: 3, 4, 6, 8, or 12 faces the intersection lines of which are parallel and (except for some monoclinic prisms) are parallel to a principal crystallographic axis;
● Pyramid: 3, 4, 6, 8, or 12 nonparallel faces that meet in a point;
● Scalenohedron: 8-faced (tetragonal) or 12-faced (hexagonal) closed form in which the faces are grouped in symmetrical pairs; in perfect crystals, each face is a scalene triangle;
● Trapezohedron: 6-, 8-, 12-, or 24-faced closed form in which half the faces are offset above the other half; in well-developed crystals, each face is a trapezium;
● Dipyramid: 6-, 8-, 12-, 16-, or 24-faced closed form in which the lower pyramid is a reflection of the upper;
● Rhombohedron: closed form of six identical faces in which none of the intersection edges is perpendicular.

      the external shape, appearance, or configuration of an object, in contradistinction to the matter of which it is composed; in metaphysics, the active, determining principle of a thing as distinguished from matter, the potential principle.

      The word form has been used in a number of ways throughout the history of philosophy and aesthetics. It was early applied to Plato's (Plato) term eidos, by which he identified the permanent reality that makes a thing what it is, in contrast to the particulars that are finite and subject to change. The Platonic concept of form was itself derived from the Pythagorean theory that intelligible structures (which Pythagoras called numbers), and not material elements, gave objects their distinctive characters. Plato developed this theory into the concept of “eternal form,” by which he meant the immutable essence that can only be “received” or “imitated” by material, or sensible, things. Plato held that eternal forms, though they were not tangible, were of a higher reality than material objects.

      For practical purposes Aristotle was the first to distinguish between matter (hypokeimenon or hyle) and form (eidos or morphe). He rejected the abstract Platonic notion of form and argued that every sensible object consists of both matter and form, neither of which can exist without the other. To Aristotle matter was the undifferentiated primal element; it is that from which things develop rather than a thing in itself. The development of particular things from this germinal matter consists in differentiation, the acquiring of the particular forms of which the knowable universe consists. Matter is the potential factor, form the actualizing factor. (Aristotle further posited the existence of a prime, or unmoved, mover, i.e., pure form separate from matter, eternal and immutable.)

      Thus according to Aristotle, the matter of a thing will consist of those elements of it which, when the thing has come into being, may be said to have become it; and the form is the arrangement or organization of those elements, as the result of which they have become the thing which they have. Thus, bricks and mortar are the matter that, given one form, become a house, or, given another, become a wall. As matter they are potentially anything that they can become; it is the form which determines what they actually become. Here “matter” is a relative term, for a brick on the pile, while potentially part of a house, is already actually a brick; i.e., it is itself a composite of form and matter, clay being matter to the brick as the brick is to the house or to the wall. Matter is that which is potentially a given object but which actually becomes that object only when it is given the right form.

      Aristotle's notion of form combines with his teleological viewpoint to give the conclusion that formal development has a direction and may have a goal and that some things are more informed than others. Bricks are more informed than clay, and a house more than bricks.

      The Aristotelian concept of form was uniquely adapted to Christianity by Thomas Aquinas, whose works mark the high point of the medieval Scholastic tradition. Aquinas further delineated the concept of form to include “accidental form,” a quality of a thing that is not determined by its essence; “sensible form,” that element of form that can be distinguished from matter by sense-perception; and other such distinctions. Other Scholastic philosophers, including John Duns Scotus and William of Ockham, worked with the Aristotelian concept of form, but none to as great an effect as Aquinas.

      For 18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant (Kant, Immanuel), form was a property of mind; he held that form is derived from experience, or, in other words, that it is imposed by the individual on the material object. In his Critique of Pure Reason Kant identified space and time as the two forms of sensibility, reasoning that though man does not experience space and time as such, he cannot experience anything except in space and time. Kant further delimited 12 basic categories that act as structural elements for human understanding.

      The concept of form is also indispensable to the practice and criticism of several disciplines other than philosophy. In literature, for example, the term may refer to the schema, structure, or genre that a writer chooses for the presentation of his subject—e.g., novel, short story, maxim, haiku, sonnet, etc.; it may also refer to the internal structure of the work, and, to a great extent, a work's critical success depends on the degree to which the artist is able to integrate the content and internal structure within the framework of its external form. In criticism of the graphic arts, the term form refers to the effect achieved by draftsmanship or mass as distinct from that achieved by such elements as colour or texture. In sculpture and other plastic arts, form (or shape) is both tangible and visible and thus is the chief element of organization.

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Universalium. 2010.

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