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See also: in form and inform.



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English informen, enformen, borrowed from Old French enformer, informer (to train, instruct, inform), from Latin īnfōrmō (to shape, form, train, instruct, educate), from in- (into) + fōrma (form, shape), equivalent to in- +‎ form.

Alternative forms[edit]


inform (third-person singular simple present informs, present participle informing, simple past and past participle informed)

  1. (archaic, transitive) To instruct, train (usually in matters of knowledge).
  2. (transitive) To communicate knowledge to.
    • (Can we date this quote by Spenser and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      For he would learn their business secretly, / And then inform his master hastily.
    • c. 1596–1598, William Shakespeare, “The Merchant of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act IV, scene i]:
      I am informed thoroughly of the cause.
  3. (intransitive) To impart information or knowledge.
  4. To act as an informer; denounce.
  5. (transitive) To give form or character to; to inspire (with a given quality); to affect, influence (with a pervading principle, idea etc.).
    His sense of religion informs everything he writes.
    • 1697, “The Sixth Book of the Æneis”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: Printed for Jacob Tonson, [], OCLC 403869432, lines 1169-1170, page 397:
      Let others better mould the running mass / Of metals, and inform the breathing brass
    • 1858, Matthew Prior, The poetical works of Matthew Prior, Edinburgh: Printed by Ballantyne and Company, line 401, page 120:
      O! long as breath informs this fleeting frame / Ne'er let me pass in silence Dorset's name
  6. (obsolete, intransitive) To make known, wisely and/or knowledgeably.
  7. (obsolete, transitive) To direct, guide.
  8. (archaic, intransitive) To take form; to become visible or manifest; to appear.
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Etymology 2[edit]

Latin īnfōrmis


inform (not comparable)

  1. Without regular form; shapeless; ugly; deformed.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Cotton to this entry?)