[n] the practice of scrupulous adherence to prescribed or external forms
[n] the doctrine that formal structure rather than content is what should be represented
[n] the philosophical theory that formal (logical or mathematical) statements have no meaning but that its symbols (regarded as physical entities) exhibit a form that has useful applications
\Form"al*ism\, n. The practice or the doctrine of strict adherence to, or dependence on, external forms, esp. in matters of religion. Official formalism. --Sir H. Rawlinson.