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

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

Cynthia Sanford, curator at the museum, now has the formidable task of sorting through a collection of some 20,000-plus items that were able to be recovered from the various memorials around Las Vegas. Janine Eduljee, NBC News, "Museums across the nation work to archive mementos of grief left after shootings," 24 Mar. 2018 But with the gaining of independence, the Founders faced the formidable task of creating a government that could operate effectively while respecting and protecting the liberties for which the Revolution had been fought. James L. Buckley, National Review, "Preserving Our Republic as Federal Government Expands," 6 Feb. 2018 After an earlier exploration, Verizon concluded that entering the business, dominated by casinos, would be a formidable competitive challenge, one of the people said. Eben Novy-williams,, "Verizon Weighs Sports Gambling as Legalization Nears," 23 Jan. 2018 Mo's son's case appears to be a formidable challenge. Maya Dukmasova, Chicago Reader, "The trials of Stuart V. Goldberg, Chicago’s flashiest defense attorney," 23 Jan. 2018 Like Max Mara’s classic coats, the BAI (Biblioteca e Archivio di Impresa), as this sartorial Louvre is officially called, is understated but formidable. Erik Maza, Town & Country, "Beyond Nancy Pelosi's Power Coat: Inside Max Mara's Fashion Museum," 29 Jan. 2019 Buckner and Solomon Thomas make the Niners’ nickel pass rush potentially formidable inside, but if Arik Armstead does not emerge outside, this D has little chance of constricting the pocket. Andy Benoit,, "Jimmy Garoppolo Takes Charge, Richard Sherman Steps In: 10 Thoughts on the 49ers," 18 June 2018 Getting too crazy and too far left because Orange County there has really been surging, and the poll numbers that are coming in there are quite considerable and formidable. Fox News, "Trump: NFL owners did the right thing," 25 May 2018 But Death Stars are everywhere now—from Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens to the airborne planet in Avengers: Age of Ultron—turning a once-formidable menace into a lazy stakes-inflation device. Brian Raftery, WIRED, "Solo May Be Inessential, But It's Also Utterly Delightful," 23 May 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

21 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for formidable

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

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More Definitions for formidable



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 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

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a flaw that causes the downfall of a hero

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