formula

[fawr-myuh-luh]
noun, plural formulas, formulae [fawr-myuh-lee] .
1.
a set form of words, as for stating or declaring something definitely or authoritatively, for indicating procedure to be followed, or for prescribed use on some ceremonial occasion.
2.
any fixed or conventional method for doing something: His mystery stories were written according to a popular formula.
3.
Mathematics.
a.
a rule or principle, frequently expressed in algebraic symbols.
b.
such a symbolic expression.
4.
Chemistry. an expression of the constituents of a compound by symbols and figures. Compare empirical formula, molecular formula, structural formula.
5.
a recipe or prescription: a new formula for currant wine.
6.
a special nutritive mixture, especially of milk, sugar, and water, in prescribed proportions for feeding a baby.
7.
a formal statement of religious doctrine.
8.
(initial capital letter) a set of specifications as to weight, engine displacement, fuel capacity, etc., for defining a class of racing cars (usually followed by a limiting numerical designation): Some races are open to Formula One cars.

Origin:
1575–85; < Latin: register, form, rule. See form, -ule

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World English Dictionary
formula (ˈfɔːmjʊlə)
 
n , pl -las, -lae
1.  an established form or set of words, as used in religious ceremonies, legal proceedings, etc
2.  maths, physics a general relationship, principle, or rule stated, often as an equation, in the form of symbols
3.  chem molecular formula empirical formula See structural formula a representation of molecules, radicals, ions, etc, expressed in the symbols of the atoms of their constituent elements
4.  a.  a method, pattern, or rule for doing or producing something, often one proved to be successful
 b.  (as modifier): formula fiction
5.  a.  a prescription for making up a medicine, baby's food, etc
 b.  a substance prepared according to such a prescription
6.  motor racing the specific category in which a particular type of car competes, judged according to engine size, weight, and fuel capacity
 
[C17: from Latin: diminutive of formaform]
 
formulaic
 
adj

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

formula
1630s, from L. formula "form, rule, method, formula," lit. "small form," dim. of forma "form." Originally, "words used in a ceremony or ritual." Modern sense is colored by Carlyle's use of the word for "rule slavishly followed without understanding" (1837).
"Men who try to speak what they believe, are naked men fighting men quilted sevenfold in formulae." [Charles Kingsley, "Letters," 1861]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

formula for·mu·la (fôr'myə-lə)
n. pl. for·mu·las or for·mu·lae (-lē')

  1. A symbolic representation of the chemical composition or of the chemical composition and structure of a compound.

  2. The chemical compound so represented.

  3. A prescription of ingredients in fixed proportion; a recipe.

  4. A liquid food for infants, containing most of the nutrients in human milk.

  5. A mathematical statement, especially an equation, of a fact, rule, principle, or other logical relation.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
formula   (fôr'myə-lə)  Pronunciation Key 
Plural formulas or formulae (fôr'myə-lē')
  1. A set of symbols showing the composition of a chemical compound. A formula lists the elements contained within it and indicates the number of atoms of each element with a subscript numeral if the number is more than 1. For example, H2O is the formula for water, where H2 indicates two atoms of hydrogen and O indicates one atom of oxygen.

  2. A set of symbols expressing a mathematical rule or principle. For example, the formula for the area of a rectangle is a = lw, where a is the area, l the length, and w the width.


The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Their plots recycled old musical formulas, with singers lip-syncing to
  pre-recorded tracks instead of performing live.
But the biographer of today must beware of adopting the unripe formulas of any
  immature science.
None of your formulas have anything definite to show, whereas alchemy has its
  actual discoveries.
Meteorologists have devised several formulas for calculating the energy
  produced by hurricanes during a season.
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