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)

Example Sentences

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 In the end, against a formidable opponent that would have been tough to overcome under optimal conditions, the ask was simply too much. Michael Silver, San Francisco Chronicle, 29 Jan. 2023 DaCosta takes on the role of a ruthless prosecutor who promises to be a formidable courtroom opponent for Mickey. Terri Robertson, Country Living, 20 Jan. 2023 The Cowboys will most likely choose to say little about it publicly this week while keeping the focus on beating a much more formidable opponent than Tampa Bay. Dallas News, 17 Jan. 2023 That set the stage for his most formidable adversary - Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, a rival crypto exchange - to crush him with stunning and decisive swiftness. Tory Newmyer, Anchorage Daily News, 13 Nov. 2022 For all the talk of the GOP’s strength in rural communities, which is formidable, and how the suburbs are a political battleground, the population density of the cities is a real strength for Democrats. Dante Chinni, NBC News, 22 Jan. 2023 If so, a Whitmer bid for the Senate (especially one blessed by Stabenow) would be formidable. Prem Thakker, The New Republic, 5 Jan. 2023 Both the Suns and the Cavs have a lot of young talent and while the Suns can score in bunches, the Cleveland defense has been formidable this season. Ian Firstenberg, Chicago Tribune, 4 Jan. 2023 Still, there are formidable financial challenges to building on an island, even more so in an economy with rising interest rates and commercial real estate in flux. Shirley Leung,, 19 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

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 6 Feb. 2023.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on formidable

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