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I thought that "format" meant to install a filesystem. Or, in certain contexts, to create partition(s) and install a filesystem. In either case, it could be stated as "prepare for use".
To be sure, a drive can be formatted with dd, but only by cloning from another drive.....
Format is just the operation to place your sub-system into a known condition. That doesn't mean that it is a filesystem. For a hdd you can use utilities to thrash or shred data on the raw device or use disk utilities to create a file structure. This can be construed as formatting. But once the data structure has been destroyed with a utility then of course you would then have to prepare the device again to allow storage of data.
For a hdd to be prepared for typical use a low level format is done by the manufacture. You the user must then create a filesystem on the device by initializing the device so as to hold the data in a file structure thus the name 'filesystem'. The storage structure or layout is determined by the medium and the chosen format program/command.
That's part of the problem with todays terminology (tech-speak). We tend to generalize and not provide proper terms to describe the situation or action. If we don't utilize the proper syntax when performing system commands then we will get errors. But semantics allow us the leisure of the mis use of terms when referencing.
3. the organization, plan, style, or type of something: The format of the show allowed for topical and controversial gags.
4. Computers. the arrangement of data for computer input or output, such as the number and size of fields in a record or the spacing and punctuation of information in a report.