Etymology
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formula (n.)

1630s, "words used in a ceremony or ritual" (earlier as a Latin word in English), from Latin formula "form, draft, contract, regulation;" in law, "a rule, method;" literally "small form," diminutive of forma "form" (see form (n.)). Modern sense is colored by Carlyle's use (1837) of the word in a sense of "rule slavishly followed without understanding" [OED]. From 1706 as "a prescription, a recipe;" mathematical use is from 1796; chemistry sense is from 1842. In motor racing, "class or specification of a car" (usually by engine size), 1927.

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Definitions of formula

formula (n.)
a group of symbols that make a mathematical statement;
Synonyms: expression
formula (n.)
directions for making something;
Synonyms: recipe
formula (n.)
a conventionalized statement expressing some fundamental principle;
formula (n.)
a representation of a substance using symbols for its constituent elements;
Synonyms: chemical formula
formula (n.)
something regarded as a normative example;
his formula for impressing visitors
Synonyms: convention / normal / pattern / rule
formula (n.)
a liquid food for infants;
formula (n.)
(mathematics) a standard procedure for solving a class of mathematical problems;
he gave us a general formula for attacking polynomials
Synonyms: rule
From wordnet.princeton.edu