for·​mi·​da·​ble | \ˈfȯr-mə-də-bəl; fȯr-ˈmi-, fər-ˈmi- \

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; fȯr-​ˌmi-​, fər-​ˌmi-​ \ noun
formidableness \ˈfȯr-​mə-​də-​bəl-​nəs; fȯr-​ˈmi-​, fər-​ˈmi-​ \ noun
formidably \ˈfȯr-​mə-​də-​blē; 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

This is and will be a formidable challenge for organizing around progressive candidates — but perhaps not as insurmountable as galvanizing white women to repudiate white supremacy and sexism with their votes. Treva B. Lindsey, Vox, "The betrayal of white women voters: in pivotal state races, they still backed the GOP," 9 Nov. 2018 Apple’s iPad is another formidable challenge—Surface Go is closer in price to the entry level ($329) iPad than the more robust iPad Pro. Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY, "Microsoft unveils smaller, lighter, $399 Surface Go tablet computer," 9 July 2018 The closure left behind an economic hole in St. Paul, and a formidable environmental challenge: The site was laced with residue from decades of automaking—petroleum compounds, paint solvents, lead, and arsenic. Jay Walljasper, WIRED, "The Bitter Battle to Turn an Old Factory Into a 21st Century 'Eco-Village'," 3 July 2018 Garrett became a tow-in enthusiast and sought the waves at Cortes Bank and the monster break at Teahupo’o in Tahiti and the equally formidable wave at Jaws in Maui. Paul Theroux, Smithsonian, "The Epic Quest to Ride the World’s Biggest Wave," 27 June 2018 Though the Democrats running for the seat insist the district is safely blue, Flores presents a formidable challenge in an unpredictable special election. Jasper Scherer, San Antonio Express-News, "Crowded races shapes up for Carlos Uresti’s Senate seat," 26 June 2018 To be sure, Moscow faces formidable challenges in maintaining or increasing its national power in the 21st century, though these models suggest that forecasts of collapse have little basis. Simon Saradzhyan, Washington Post, "Is Vladimir Putin’s Russia in decline? We figured out how to measure ‘national power.’," 20 June 2018 O’Malley eventually becomes a United States attorney’s investigator, allowing him to deploy the formidable resources of the feds against surging gang violence and the SMM crew. Jill Leovy, New York Times, "The Killers of the ‘Sex Money Murder’ Gang and the Cops Who Went After Them," 1 June 2018 Being a walk-on hopeful for the Lady Seminoles was another formidable challenge that Romanelli met head-on. Emmett Hall,, "Lighthouse Point resident inducted into Cardinal Gibbons Athletic Hall of Fame," 28 Apr. 2018

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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Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for formidable

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

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English Language Learners Definition of formidable

: very powerful or strong : deserving serious attention and respect

: very difficult to deal with

: large or impressive in size or amount


for·​mi·​da·​ble | \ˈfȯr-mə-də-bəl \

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

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Comments on formidable

What made you want to look up formidable? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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