adjective for·mi·da·ble \ ˈfȯr-mə-də-bəl ; fȯr-ˈmi- , fər-ˈmi- \
Updated on: 22 Feb 2018

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


play \ˌfȯr-mə-də-ˈbi-lə-tē; fȯr-ˌmi-, fər-ˌmi-\ noun


play \ˈfȯr-mə-də-bəl-nəs; fȯr-ˈmi-, fər-ˈmi-\ noun


play \ˈfȯr-mə-də-blē; fȯr-ˈmi-, fər-ˈmi-\ adverb

Examples of formidable in a Sentence

  1. 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. JonesThe Known World2003
  2. 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 HorneSeven Ages of Paris2002
  3. 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 ZarinNew Yorker23 Mar. 1992
  4. The mountains were a formidable barrier.

  5. He has mastered a formidable amount of material.

Recent Examples of formidable from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of formidable

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

FORMIDABLE Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of formidable for English Language Learners

  • : very powerful or strong : deserving serious attention and respect

  • : very difficult to deal with

  • : large or impressive in size or amount

FORMIDABLE Defined for Kids


adjective for·mi·da·ble \ ˈfȯr-mə-də-bəl \

Definition of formidable for Students

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



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