in English Word of the Day

Formation – English Word of the Day

Formation is a commonly confusing word for French and Spanish speakers.

In French formation and in Spanish formación are commonly used to refer to education and training, especially vocational training. But in English the noun formation actually means a group of individuals arranged in a pre-planned physical layout–such as soldiers doing military drills, planes flying together, or dancers doing a group choreography. Often such groups are called formation teams for that reason. Related uses including military tactical manoeuvres and sports such as rugby.

Another meaning of formation is however used similarly in all three languages, in the sense of the gradual creation of something. We can speak of the formation of an icicle, a glacier, or a mountain range.

Where that can get confusing is that the formation of an organization is the creation of the organization, not its training.

Canada's Snowbirds Flying in Diamond Formation

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