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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web However, that defense has proven just as formidable through two shutouts. Matt Goul, cleveland, "Defenses ahead of game could be the difference by football season’s end," 7 Sep. 2020 Six years later, sentimentality remains an obstacle, but there’s another obstacle, just as formidable: Practicality. Laurie Hertzel, Star Tribune, "Bookmark: Where to begin downsizing when you have thousands of books?," 14 Aug. 2020 The 87-year-old justice was a tireless and formidable figure in American law—an impressive jurist during her nearly three decades on the Supreme Court and a groundbreaking advocate for women’s rights throughout her entire legal career. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "How to End the Judicial Wars, Once and for All," 23 Sep. 2020 The most formidable and enduring are those that find constitutional violations. Ofer Raban, The Conversation, "It’s still a conservative Supreme Court, even after recent liberal decisions – here’s why," 14 Sep. 2020 Better to play the odds on the road against a formidable opponent. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, "One game into his Cowboys tenure, Mike McCarthy’s honeymoon phase is already over," 14 Sep. 2020 In the futuristic series — about two androids tasked with raising human children — Fimmel plays the mysterious and formidable Marcus, a man with a troubled past. Kara Warner,, "Vikings Alum Travis Fimmel on Raised by Wolves and Enjoying Quarantine on His Farm," 3 Sep. 2020 On Wednesday evening, the Bucks were set to play Game Five of their first-round playoff series against the Orlando Magic—they were expected to win, finishing off the series, and to turn their attention to their next, more formidable opponent. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, "The Exhilarating Jolt of the Milwaukee Bucks’ Wildcat Strike," 27 Aug. 2020 The president claims the Democratic nominee has used the pandemic as an excuse to take refuge in the basement of his Delaware home and avoid the rigors of the campaign, contrasting himself as physically formidable and mentally sharp. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "Matt Gaetz revs up MAGA faithful at GOP convention," 24 Aug. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about formidable

Time Traveler for formidable

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for formidable

Last Updated

14 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Formidable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for formidable


How to pronounce formidable (audio) How to pronounce formidable (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Namesakes Word Quiz

  • a citrus fruit possibly named after a person
  • Which of the following is a fruit named after a Moroccan seaport?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!