for·mi·da·ble | \ ˈfȯr-mə-də-bəl ; fȯr-ˈmi- , fər-ˈmi- \

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; fȯr-ˌmi-, fər-ˌmi- \ noun
formidableness \ˈfȯr-mə-də-bəl-nəs; fȯr-ˈmi-, fər-ˈmi- \ noun
formidably \ˈfȯr-mə-də-blē; 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

In Spain, Telecinco's broadcast of the England-Spain semi-final drew a formidable 53 percent share. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, "World Cup Semifinals Score Ratings Records in Europe," 12 July 2018 The Klan gained particularly formidable power in Oregon, especially in my hometown, Portland; Oregon shared with Indiana the distinction of having the highest per capita Klan membership. Longreads, "Oregon’s Racist Past," 12 July 2018 But stars Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne couldn't find their way through the formidable French defense and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who made three crucial saves in the match. Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, "France edges Belgium to reach World Cup final," 11 July 2018 Universal has constructed a formidable viewing area – capacity of about 6,500 people – in the Central Park area for the show. Dewayne Bevil,, "First look: 'Universal Orlando's Cinematic Celebration'," 10 July 2018 Obituary: Lonnie Shelton, the starting power forward and formidable defensive enforcer for the Sonics team that won Seattle’s only NBA title in 1979, has died at age 62. Morning Brief, The Seattle Times, "The Thailand cave rescue is complete, and more on the Supreme Court | Tuesday Morning Brief, July 10," 10 July 2018 But in the matter of style, their contrasting approaches offer a window into the debate coursing through the Democratic Party as a whole: how best to take on the strangely formidable force that is Donald Trump. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Trump’s confusion about Bush’s slogan illustrates his narrow view of the presidency," 9 July 2018 But in the matter of style, their contrasting approaches offer a window into the debate coursing through the Democratic Party as a whole: how best to take on the strangely formidable force that is Donald Trump. Matt Viser,, "In Warren, Patrick, two ways to take on Trump," 7 July 2018 To me, Unite America is that idea, and the time for this movement to become a formidable force in America is right now. Naperville Sun, "Letters to the Editor: Time for moderate views to take center stage, too many anti-Trump opinions in paper, more," 6 July 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

19 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for formidable

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

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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 \

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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