- (organic chemistry) The simplest carboxylic acid, HCOOH, a colourless, corrosive liquid with a sharp odour; it is present in the stings of ants, bees and nettles, and is prepared industrially by the oxidation of methanol or formaldehyde; it has some industrial uses, and its esters, the formates are used in perfumes.
- 1941, Ogden Nash, “The Ant”, in The Face is Familiar: The Selected Verse of Ogden Nash, reprint edition, Garden City, N.Y.: Garden City Publishing Company, OCLC 867002875, page 224:
- The ant has made himself illustrious / Through constant industry industrious. / So what? / Would you be calm and placid / If you were full of formic acid?