for·​mi·​da·​ble | \ ˈfȯr-mə-də-bəl How to pronounce formidable (audio) ; fȯr-ˈmi-, fər-ˈmi- How to pronounce formidable (audio) \

Essential Meaning of formidable

1 : very powerful or strong : deserving serious attention and respect a formidable enemy/opponent/weapon
2 : very difficult to deal with The mountains were a formidable barrier. a formidable challenge/task
3 : large or impressive in size or amount He has mastered a formidable amount of material.

Full Definition of formidable

1 : causing fear, dread, or apprehension a formidable prospect
2 : having qualities that discourage approach or attack a formidable opponent
3 : tending to inspire awe or wonder : impressive a formidable accomplishment

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Other Words from formidable

formidability \ ˌfȯr-​mə-​də-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce formidable (audio) ; fȯr-​ˌmi-​ , fər-​ˌmi-​ \ noun
formidableness \ ˈfȯr-​mə-​də-​bəl-​nəs How to pronounce formidable (audio) ; fȯr-​ˈmi-​ , fər-​ˈmi-​ \ noun
formidably \ ˈfȯr-​mə-​də-​blē How to pronounce formidable (audio) ; fȯr-​ˈmi-​ , fər-​ˈmi-​ \ adverb

Examples of formidable in a Sentence

She was known throughout Manchester as a formidable woman, and being educated had only piled more formidability on top of what she had been born with. — Edward P. Jones, The Known World, 2003 The technology was formidable: using two and a half million rivets, 300 steeplejacks working flat out would run it up in the space of two years … — Alistair Horne, Seven Ages of Paris, 2002 Alta is reached by a hairpin road that climbs steadily upward—a ride of thirty minutes or so, depending on road and weather conditions—through some of the most formidable mountain scenery in the country. — Cynthia Zarin, New Yorker, 23 Mar. 1992 The mountains were a formidable barrier. He has mastered a formidable amount of material.
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Recent Examples on the Web In this light, Mr. Gurnah’s accolade recalls the prize given to the low-key but cumulatively formidable French novels of Patrick Modiano in 2014. Boyd Tonkin, WSJ, 11 Oct. 2021 But even a beefy and formidable hurricane begins life as a pretty small system. Dennis Mersereau, Forbes, 29 Sep. 2021 Valley fever on its own is a formidable and expensive illness to contend with. Zoya Teirstein, Wired, 25 Sep. 2021 Not only do the Rams boast a formidable and imposing style of play, but a luxurious amount of legs capable of gashing you for big yards. Evan Merrill, The Enquirer, 25 Sep. 2021 Over the course of 60 minutes, a callow secondary, two transfers at tackle and some veterans in new positions became a unit that looked at times formidable and generally capable. Edgar Thompson,, 21 Sep. 2021 The widespread corruption also served to demoralize the Afghan fighting forces, which by many accounts were formidable and relatively professional. Tracy Wilkinson Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 19 Aug. 2021 Watching these two powerful and formidable women face off is awesome and a little terrifying, but thankfully Leslie's wearing Kryptonite cuffs — otherwise this confrontation wouldn't end well for Lois. Sydney Bucksbaum,, 17 Aug. 2021 Obviously missing were breakout Thuso Mbedu, who gave a stellar lead performance as Cora, and Joel Edgerton, who starred opposite as the loathsome and formidable Ridgeway. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, 14 July 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'formidable.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of formidable

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for formidable

Middle English, from Latin formidabilis, from formidare to fear, from formido terror, bogey; akin to Greek mormō bogey

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Time Traveler for formidable

Time Traveler

The first known use of formidable was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near formidable



forming die

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Last Updated

15 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Formidable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for formidable


for·​mi·​da·​ble | \ ˈfȯr-mə-də-bəl How to pronounce formidable (audio) \

Kids Definition of formidable

1 : causing fear or awe a formidable enemy
2 : offering serious difficulties a formidable task
3 : large or impressive in size or extent a formidable waterfall

Other Words from formidable

formidably adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on formidable

Nglish: Translation of formidable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of formidable for Arabic Speakers


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