for·​mi·​da·​ble ˈfȯr-mə-də-bəl How to pronounce formidable (audio)
fər-ˈmi- How to pronounce formidable (audio)
: causing fear, dread, or apprehension
a formidable prospect
: having qualities that discourage approach or attack
a formidable opponent
: tending to inspire awe or wonder : impressive
a formidable accomplishment
ˌfȯr-mə-də-ˈbi-lə-tē How to pronounce formidable (audio)
ˈfȯr-mə-də-bəl-nəs How to pronounce formidable (audio)
ˈfȯr-mə-də-blē How to pronounce formidable (audio)

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.
Recent Examples on the Web But the two others are formidable warships: The missile frigate Admiral Gorshkov and the nuclear submarine Kazan can pack a wallop in terms of armament and are part of Russia’s attempts to catch up with the world’s modern navies. Antonio Maria Delgado, Miami Herald, 12 June 2024 The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has emerged as a formidable competitor and potentially dangerous adversary on multiple fronts and across multiple domains—and underlying it all is China’s relentless pursuit of technological dominance. Byhoracio Rozanski, Fortune, 10 June 2024 With the addition of Matt Simmons (Daniel Henney) to the BAU, a formidable enemy in Linda Barnes (Kim Rhodes), and a thrilling ending, season 13 had all the makings of a great installment. Alamin Yohannes,, 10 June 2024 The district’s political breakdown is the most favorable to the GOP out of the state’s eight congressional districts, with 37% of voters affiliated as Republicans, 18% as Democrats and 44% unaffiliated — meaning any Democrat faces a formidable mathematical hurdle. Seth Klamann, The Denver Post, 9 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for formidable 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'formidable.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near formidable

Cite this Entry

“Formidable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


for·​mi·​da·​ble ˈfȯr-məd-ə-bəl How to pronounce formidable (audio)
fȯr-ˈmid- How to pronounce formidable (audio)
: causing fear or dread
a formidable foe
: offering serious difficulties
the mountains were a formidable barrier
: very impressive
had won a formidable number of medals
formidableness noun
formidably adverb

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