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Form vs. Shape: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Form refers to the physical structure, arrangement, or presence of an object, including its volume and three-dimensionality, while shape denotes the outline or external boundary of an object.
Form vs. Shape

Key Differences

Form encompasses the overall physical structure of an object, including its volume and how it occupies space, whereas shape is concerned with the external boundary or contour of an object, defining its outline.
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Nov 17, 2023
In art and design, form is used to describe the three-dimensional aspect and structure of an artwork or object, often indicating its depth and volume. Shape, on the other hand, is primarily two-dimensional, focusing on the outline and flat surface area of an object.
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Form often involves the perception of an object as a whole, including its composition and construction. In contrast, shape is typically the initial visual aspect perceived, representing the external edges or profile of an object.
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Form can also refer to the overall appearance and style of an object, including its design elements. Shape tends to refer to the geometric or natural outline of an object, determining its basic appearance.
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Forms can be complex, involving multiple shapes and varying depths. Shapes are generally simpler, confined to the boundary lines and surface appearance, without necessarily considering depth or volume.
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Comparison Chart

Dimensionality

Three-dimensional, includes volume
Two-dimensional, focuses on outline
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In Art and Design

Describes structure and depth
Focuses on contour and flat surface area
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Perception

Overall composition, including depth
Initial visual aspect, external edges
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Contextual Use

Overall appearance and style
Geometric or natural outline
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Complexity and Variety

Complex, combines multiple shapes
Simpler, confined to boundary lines
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Form and Shape Definitions

Form

The visible shape or configuration of something.
The sculpture had an unusual form that intrigued onlookers.
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Shape

To form into a particular shape; to influence or determine.
Her experiences shaped her perspective on life.
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Form

A particular way in which a thing exists or appears.
The information was presented in the form of a graph.
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Shape

The characteristic surface configuration of a thing; an outline or contour
A lake in the shape of an hourglass.
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Form

The body or shape of a person or thing.
His athletic form was ideal for the sport.
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Shape

Spatial form, contour, or appearance
The sandy coastline is always changing shape.
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Form

A type or variety of something.
The sonnet is a form of lyrical poetry.
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Shape

The body or outward appearance of a person or an animal
Saw two shapes walking toward her in the night.
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Form

The manner or style of arranging and coordinating parts.
The architect was praised for the innovative form of the building.
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Shape

The contour of a person's body; the figure
A swimmer with a slender shape.
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Form

The shape and structure of an object
The form of a snowflake.
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Shape

A definite or distinctive form
Our discussion acquired the shape of an argument.
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Form

The body or outward appearance of a person or an animal; figure
In the fog we could see two forms standing on the bridge.
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Shape

Form, condition, or embodiment
How is your research project taking shape?.
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Form

A model of the human figure or part of it used for displaying clothes.
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Shape

A desirable form
A fabric that holds its shape.
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Form

A mold for the setting of concrete.
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Shape

Assumed or false appearance; guise
A god in the shape of a swan.
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Form

The way in which a thing exists, acts, or manifests itself
An element usually found in the form of a gas.
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Shape

A ghostly form; a phantom
Shapes appeared in his bedroom at night.
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Form

(Philosophy) The essential or ideal nature of something, especially as distinguished from its matter or material being.
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Shape

Something, such as a mold or pattern, used to give or determine form.
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Form

A kind, type, or variety
A cat is a form of mammal.
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Shape

The condition of something with regard to effectiveness, use, or appearance
What kind of shape is your car in?.
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Form

(Botany) A subdivision of a variety usually differing in one trivial characteristic, such as flower color.
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Shape

Bodily condition, as in regard to muscle tone or endurance
She's in great shape after working out for six months.
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Form

Method of arrangement or manner of coordinating elements in verbal or musical composition
Presented my ideas in outline form.
A treatise in the form of a dialogue.
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Shape

To give a particular form to (a material)
Shape the dough into baguettes.
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Form

A particular type or example of such arrangement
The essay is a literary form.
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Shape

To create or configure, as from a material
A sculpture that was shaped out of ice.
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Form

Procedure as determined or governed by regulation or custom
Gave his consent solely as a matter of form.
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Shape

To cause to conform to a particular form
A pool that is shaped like an hourglass.
A bone that is shaped to bear weight.
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Form

Manners or conduct as governed by etiquette, decorum, or custom
Arriving late to a wedding is considered bad form.
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Shape

To plan or devise
Shape a new educational program.
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Form

A fixed order of words or procedures, as for use in a ceremony
"As they had never had a funeral aboard a ship, they began rehearsing the forms so as to be ready" (Arthur Conan Doyle).
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Shape

To embody in a definite form
Shaped a folk tale into an opera.
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Form

A document with blanks for the insertion of details or information
Insurance forms.
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Shape

To influence in a formative way
Experiences that shaped his identity.
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Form

Performance considered with regard to acknowledged criteria
A musician at the top of her form.
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Shape

To direct the course of
"He shaped history as well as being shaped by it" (Robert J. Samuelson).
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Form

A pattern of behavior or performance
Remained true to form and showed up late.
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Shape

The status or condition of something
The used bookshop wouldn’t offer much due to the poor shape of the book.
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Form

Fitness, as of an athlete or animal, with regard to health or training
A dog in excellent form.
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Shape

Condition of personal health, especially muscular health.
The vet checked to see what kind of shape the animal was in.
We exercise to keep in good physical shape.
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Form

A racing form.
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Shape

The appearance of something in terms of its arrangement in space, especially its outline; often a basic geometric two-dimensional figure.
He cut a square shape out of the cake.
What shape shall we use for the cookies? Stars, circles, or diamonds?
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Form

A grade in a British secondary school or in some American private schools
The sixth form.
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Shape

Form; formation.
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Form

A linguistic form.
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Shape

(iron manufacture) A rolled or hammered piece, such as a bar, beam, angle iron, etc., having a cross section different from merchant bar.
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Form

The external aspect of words with regard to their inflections, pronunciation, or spelling.
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Shape

(iron manufacture) A piece which has been roughly forged nearly to the form it will receive when completely forged or fitted.
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Form

Chiefly British A long seat; a bench.
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Shape

A mould for making blancmange, jelly, etc., or a piece of such food formed moulded into a particular shape.
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Form

The lair or resting place of a hare.
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Shape

(gambling) A loaded die.
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Form

To give form to; shape
Form clay into figures.
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Shape

(programming) In the Hack programming language, a group of data fields each of which has a name and a data type.
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Form

To make or fashion by shaping
Form figures out of clay.
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Shape

To create or make.
Earth was shapen by God for God's folk.
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Form

To develop in the mind; conceive
Her reading led her to form a different opinion.
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Shape

(transitive) To give something a shape and definition.
Shape the dough into a pretzel.
For my art project, I plan to shape my clay lump into a bowl.
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Form

To arrange oneself in
Holding out his arms, the cheerleader formed a T. The acrobats formed a pyramid.
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Shape

To form or manipulate something into a certain shape.
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Form

To organize or arrange
The environmentalists formed their own party.
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Shape

(of a country, person, etc) To give influence to.
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Form

To fashion, train, or develop by instruction, discipline, or precept
Formed the recruits into excellent soldiers.
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Shape

To suit; to be adjusted or conformable.
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Form

To come to have; develop or acquire
He formed the habit of walking to work.
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Shape

(obsolete) To imagine; to conceive.
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Form

To enter into (a relationship)
They formed a friendship.
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Shape

To form or create; especially, to mold or make into a particular form; to give proper form or figure to.
I was shapen in iniquity.
Grace shaped her limbs, and beauty decked her face.
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Form

To constitute or compose, especially out of separate elements
The bones that form the skeleton.
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Shape

To adapt to a purpose; to regulate; to adjust; to direct; as, to shape the course of a vessel.
To the stream, when neither friends, nor force,Nor speed nor art avail, he shapes his course.
Charmed by their eyes, their manners I acquire,And shape my foolishness to their desire.
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Form

To produce (a tense, for example) by inflection
Form the pluperfect.
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Shape

To imagine; to conceive; to call forth (ideas).
Oft my jealousyShapes faults that are not.
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Form

To make (a word) by derivation or composition.
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Shape

To design; to prepare; to plan; to arrange.
When shapen was all this conspiracy,From point to point.
I will early shape me therefor.
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Form

To become formed or shaped
Add enough milk so the dough forms easily into balls.
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Shape

To suit; to be adjusted or conformable.
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Form

To come into being by taking form; arise
Clouds will form in the afternoon.
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Shape

Character or construction of a thing as determining its external appearance; outward aspect; make; figure; form; guise; as, the shape of a tree; the shape of the head; an elegant shape.
He beat me grievously, in the shape of a woman.
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Form

To assume a specified form, shape, or pattern
The soldiers formed into a column.
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Shape

That which has form or figure; a figure; an appearance; a being.
Before the gates three sat,On either side, a formidable shape.
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Form

To do with shape.
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Shape

A model; a pattern; a mold.
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Form

The shape or visible structure of a thing or person.
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Shape

Form of embodiment, as in words; form, as of thought or conception; concrete embodiment or example, as of some quality.
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Form

A thing that gives shape to other things as in a mold.
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Shape

Dress for disguise; guise.
Look better on this virgin, and considerThis Persian shape laid by, and she appearingIn a Greekish dress.
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Form

Regularity, beauty, or elegance.
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Shape

A rolled or hammered piece, as a bar, beam, angle iron, etc., having a cross section different from merchant bar.
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Form

(philosophy) The inherent nature of an object; that which the mind itself contributes as the condition of knowing; that in which the essence of a thing consists.
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Shape

Any spatial attributes (especially as defined by outline);
He could barely make out their shapes through the smoke
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Form

Characteristics not involving atomic components. en
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Shape

The spatial arrangement of something as distinct from its substance;
Geometry is the mathematical science of shape
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Form

(dated) A long bench with no back.
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Shape

Alternative names for the body of a human being;
Leonardo studied the human body
He has a strong physique
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak
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Form

(fine arts) The boundary line of a material object. In painting, more generally, the human body.
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Shape

A concrete representation of an otherwise nebulous concept;
A circle was the embodiment of his concept of life
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Form

(crystallography) The combination of planes included under a general crystallographic symbol. It is not necessarily a closed solid.
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Shape

The visual appearance of something or someone;
The delicate cast of his features
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Form

(social) To do with structure or procedure.
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Shape

The state of (good) health (especially in the phrases `in condition' or `in shape' or `out of condition' or `out of shape')
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Form

An order of doing things, as in religious ritual.
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Shape

The supremem headquarters that advises NATO on military matters and oversees all aspects of the Allied Command Europe
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Form

Established method of expression or practice; fixed way of proceeding; conventional or stated scheme; formula.
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Shape

A perceptual structure;
The composition presents problems for students of musical form
A visual pattern must include not only objects but the spaces between them
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Form

Constitution; mode of construction, organization, etc.; system.
A republican form of government
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Shape

Shape or influence; give direction to;
Experience often determines ability
Mold public opinion
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Form

Show without substance; empty, outside appearance; vain, trivial, or conventional ceremony; conventionality; formality.
A matter of mere form
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Shape

Make something, usually for a specific function;
She molded the riceballs carefully
Form cylinders from the dough
Shape a figure
Work the metal into a sword
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Form

(archaic) A class or rank in society.
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Shape

Give a shape or form to;
Shape the dough
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Form

(UK) A criminal record; loosely, past history (in a given area).
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Shape

The external form, contours, or outline of someone or something.
The clouds took the shape of a dragon in the sky.
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Form

Level of performance.
The team's form has been poor this year.
The orchestra was on top form this evening.
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Shape

A specific form or appearance, especially one that's typical or distinctive.
The vase had a shape reminiscent of ancient Greek pottery.
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Form

A class or year of school pupils (often preceded by an ordinal number to specify the year, as in sixth form).
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Shape

The condition or state of something.
After repairs, the car was in great shape.
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Form

A blank document or template to be filled in by the user.
To apply for the position, complete the application form.
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Shape

A geometric figure such as a square, circle, or triangle.
Children learn to recognize shapes early in life.
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Form

A specimen document to be copied or imitated.
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Form

(grammar) A grouping of words which maintain grammatical context in different usages; the particular shape or structure of a word or part of speech.
Participial forms;
Verb forms
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Form

The den or home of a hare.
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Form

A window or dialogue box.
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Form

Essentials
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Form

(taxonomy) An infraspecific rank.
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Form

The type or other matter from which an impression is to be taken, arranged and secured in a chase.
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Form

(geometry) A quantic.
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Form

A specific way of performing a movement.
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Form

(transitive) To assume (a certain shape or visible structure).
When you kids form a straight line I'll hand out the lollies.
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Form

(transitive) To give (a shape or visible structure) to a thing or person.
Roll out the dough to form a thin sheet.
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Form

(intransitive) To take shape.
When icicles start to form on the eaves you know the roads will be icy.
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Form

To put together or bring into being; assemble.
The socialists did not have enough MPs to form a government.
Paul McCartney and John Lennon formed The Beatles in Liverpool in 1960.
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Form

To create (a word) by inflection or derivation.
By adding "-ness", you can form a noun from an adjective.
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Form

(transitive) To constitute, to compose, to make up.
Teenagers form the bulk of extreme traffic offenders.
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Form

To mould or model by instruction or discipline.
Singing in a choir helps to form a child's sociality.
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Form

To provide (a hare) with a form.
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Form

To treat (plates) to prepare them for introduction into a storage battery, causing one plate to be composed more or less of spongy lead, and the other of lead peroxide. This was formerly done by repeated slow alternations of the charging current, but later the plates or grids were coated or filled, one with a paste of red lead and the other with litharge, introduced into the cell, and formed by a direct charging current.
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Form

The shape and structure of anything, as distinguished from the material of which it is composed; particular disposition or arrangement of matter, giving it individuality or distinctive character; configuration; figure; external appearance.
The form of his visage was changed.
And woven close close, both matter, form, and style.
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Form

Constitution; mode of construction, organization, etc.; system; as, a republican form of government.
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Form

Established method of expression or practice; fixed way of proceeding; conventional or stated scheme; formula; as, a form of prayer.
Those whom form of lawsCondemned to die.
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Oct 19, 2023

Form

Show without substance; empty, outside appearance; vain, trivial, or conventional ceremony; conventionality; formality; as, a matter of mere form.
Though well we may not pass upon his lifeWithout the form of justice.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

Orderly arrangement; shapeliness; also, comeliness; elegance; beauty.
The earth was without form and void.
He hath no form nor comeliness.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

A shape; an image; a phantom.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

That by which shape is given or determined; mold; pattern; model.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

A long seat; a bench; hence, a rank of students in a school; a class; also, a class or rank in society.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

The seat or bed of a hare.
As in a form sitteth a weary hare.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

The type or other matter from which an impression is to be taken, arranged and secured in a chase.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

The boundary line of a material object. In (painting), more generally, the human body.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

The particular shape or structure of a word or part of speech; as, participial forms; verbal forms.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

The combination of planes included under a general crystallographic symbol. It is not necessarily a closed solid.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

That assemblage or disposition of qualities which makes a conception, or that internal constitution which makes an existing thing to be what it is; - called essential or substantial form, and contradistinguished from matter; hence, active or formative nature; law of being or activity; subjectively viewed, an idea; objectively, a law.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

Mode of acting or manifestation to the senses, or the intellect; as, water assumes the form of ice or snow. In modern usage, the elements of a conception furnished by the mind's own activity, as contrasted with its object or condition, which is called the matter; subjectively, a mode of apprehension or belief conceived as dependent on the constitution of the mind; objectively, universal and necessary accompaniments or elements of every object known or thought of.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

The peculiar characteristics of an organism as a type of others; also, the structure of the parts of an animal or plant.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

To give form or shape to; to frame; to construct; to make; to fashion.
God formed man of the dust of the ground.
The thought that labors in my forming brain.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

To give a particular shape to; to shape, mold, or fashion into a certain state or condition; to arrange; to adjust; also, to model by instruction and discipline; to mold by influence, etc.; to train.
'T is education forms the common mind.
Thus formed for speed, he challenges the wind.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

To go to make up; to act as constituent of; to be the essential or constitutive elements of; to answer for; to make the shape of; - said of that out of which anything is formed or constituted, in whole or in part.
The diplomatic politicians . . . who formed by far the majority.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

To derive by grammatical rules, as by adding the proper suffixes and affixes.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

To treat (plates) so as to bring them to fit condition for introduction into a storage battery, causing one plate to be composed more or less of spongy lead, and the other of lead peroxide. This was formerly done by repeated slow alternations of the charging current, but now the plates or grids are coated or filled, one with a paste of red lead and the other with litharge, introduced into the cell, and formed by a direct charging current.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

To take a form, definite shape, or arrangement; as, the infantry should form in column.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

To run to a form, as a hare.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

The phonological or orthographic sound or appearance of a word that can be used to describe or identify something;
The inflected forms of a word can be represented by a stem and a list of inflections to be attached
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

A category of things distinguished by some common characteristic or quality;
Sculpture is a form of art
What kinds of desserts are there?
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

A perceptual structure;
The composition presents problems for students of musical form
A visual pattern must include not only objects but the spaces between them
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

Any spatial attributes (especially as defined by outline);
He could barely make out their shapes through the smoke
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

Alternative names for the body of a human being;
Leonardo studied the human body
He has a strong physique
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

The spatial arrangement of something as distinct from its substance;
Geometry is the mathematical science of shape
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

The visual appearance of something or someone;
The delicate cast of his features
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

(physical chemistry) a distinct state of matter in a system; matter that is identical in chemical composition and physical state and separated from other material by the phase boundary;
The reaction occurs in the liquid phase of the system
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

A printed document with spaces in which to write;
He filled out his tax form
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

(biology) a group of organisms within a species that differ in trivial ways from similar groups;
A new strain of microorganisms
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

An arrangement of the elements in a composition or discourse;
The essay was in the form of a dialogue
He first sketches the plot in outline form
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

A particular mode in which something is manifested;
His resentment took the form of extreme hostility
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

A body of students who are taught together;
Early morning classes are always sleepy
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

An ability to perform well;
He was at the top of his form
The team was off form last night
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

A life-size dummy used to display clothes
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

A mold for setting concrete;
They built elaborate forms for pouring the foundation
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

To compose or represent:
This wall forms the background of the stage setting
The branches made a roof
This makes a fine introduction
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

Create (as an entity);
Social groups form everywhere
They formed a company
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

Develop into a distinctive entity;
Our plans began to take shape
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

Give a shape or form to;
Shape the dough
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

Make something, usually for a specific function;
She molded the riceballs carefully
Form cylinders from the dough
Shape a figure
Work the metal into a sword
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

Establish or impress firmly in the mind;
We imprint our ideas onto our children
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Form

Give shape to;
Form the clay into a head
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

Can form exist without shape?

No, form inherently includes shape as part of its structure.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Is shape only two-dimensional?

Yes, shape is generally considered as a two-dimensional outline.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

What defines form?

Form is defined by an object's physical structure and three-dimensionality.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

How does form relate to art?

In art, form pertains to the 3D aspect and structure of artworks.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Can form change while shape remains the same?

Yes, form can change in structure or depth without altering the basic shape.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

How do children learn about shape?

They learn by recognizing and naming basic geometric shapes.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Is form always visible?

Generally, yes, though some aspects of form may be implied or inferred.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

What is the essence of shape?

Shape refers to the external boundary or contour of an object.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

How does form contribute to functionality?

The form often determines how an object can be used or interacted with.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Do form and shape affect aesthetics?

Absolutely, both play crucial roles in the aesthetic appeal of objects.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Can shape be abstract?

Yes, shapes can be abstract, representing non-literal contours.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Can form be subjective?

Yes, perceptions of form can vary based on individual viewpoints.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Is form more complex than shape?

Typically, form is more complex as it includes depth and volume.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

How do artists use shape?

Artists use shape to create outlines and define spaces in their work.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Is shape influenced by form?

Yes, the shape is often a visible aspect of an object's form.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Does shape have depth?

Typically, shape does not include depth; it’s more about surface contours.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Do form and shape impact perception?

They greatly influence how we perceive and understand objects.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Can the same shape have different forms?

Yes, the same basic shape can be part of different forms.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Do form and shape vary across cultures?

Yes, cultural interpretations and uses of form and shape can differ.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

Are form and shape important in design?

Yes, they are fundamental elements in all design fields.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 17, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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