To formulate is to come up with a plan. If you are locked out of your house, you'll need to formulate a plan to get back inside — preferably one that doesn't involve kicking in the door.

You can also use the verb formulate to mean "put into words." If too many people are showing up at your work in inappropriate clothes, your company may formulate a dress code policy. They may, for example, decree that shoes must be worn at all times. The verb can also mean "to develop a formula for something." If the dog ate the chicken you were going to use in your dinner, you may need to formulate a new recipe for chicken-less pot pie.

Definitions of formulate
  1. verb
    prepare according to a formula
  2. verb
    elaborate, as of theories and hypotheses
    synonyms: develop, explicate
    elaborate by the unfolding of a musical idea and by the working out of the rhythmic and harmonic changes in the theme
    acquire, develop, evolve
    gain through experience
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    develop and work out fully in one's mind
    redevelop, reformulate
    formulate or develop again, of an improved theory or hypothesis
    type of:
    conjecture, hypothecate, hypothesise, hypothesize, speculate, suppose, theorise, theorize
    believe especially on uncertain or tentative grounds
  3. verb
    come up with (an idea, plan, explanation, theory, or principle) after a mental effort
    synonyms: contrive, devise, excogitate, forge, invent
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    type of:
    create by mental act, create mentally
    create mentally and abstractly rather than with one's hands
  4. verb
    put into words or an expression
    “He formulated his concerns to the board of trustees”
    synonyms: articulate, give voice, phrase, word
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    direct or put; seek an answer to
    lexicalise, lexicalize
    make or coin into a word or accept a new word into the lexicon of a language
    dogmatise, dogmatize
    state as a dogma
    formularise, formularize
    express as a formula
    cast, couch, frame, put, redact
    formulate in a particular style or language
    type of:
    evince, express, show
    give expression to
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