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[fawr-mi-duh-buh l] /ˈfɔr mɪ də bəl/
causing fear, apprehension, or dread:
a formidable opponent.
of discouraging or awesome strength, size, difficulty, etc.; intimidating:
a formidable problem.
arousing feelings of awe or admiration because of grandeur, strength, etc.
of great strength; forceful; powerful:
formidable opposition to the proposal.
Origin of formidable
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < French < Latin formīdābilis causing fear, equivalent to formīd- (stem of formīdāre to fear) + -ābilis -able
Related forms
formidableness, formidability, noun
formidably, adverb
nonformidability, noun
nonformidable, adjective
nonformidableness, noun
nonformidably, adverb
quasi-formidable, adjective
quasi-formidably, adverb
superformidable, adjective
superformidableness, noun
superformidably, adverb
unformidable, adjective
unformidableness, noun
unformidably, adverb
Can be confused
formative, formidable.
1. dreadful, appalling, threatening, menacing, fearful, frightful, horrible.
1. pleasant. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for formidable
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We are, however, attributing too much to this formidable power.

  • The feeling of a prudent man for an enemy who is too formidable safely to be opposed.

    The Devil's Dictionary Ambrose Bierce
  • Each measured the other, and they were formidable antagonists, well matched.

    The Rock of Chickamauga Joseph A. Altsheler
  • We had laid in this formidable implement in hopes of a big muscallunge.

    The Forest Stewart Edward White
  • The thicket, before so formidable, amounted to nothing at all.

    The Forest Stewart Edward White
British Dictionary definitions for formidable


arousing or likely to inspire fear or dread
extremely difficult to defeat, overcome, manage, etc: a formidable problem
tending to inspire awe or admiration because of great size, strength, excellence, etc
Derived Forms
formidability, formidableness, noun
formidably, adverb
Word Origin
C15: from Latin formīdābilis, from formīdāre to dread, from formīdō fear
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for formidable

mid-15c., from Middle French formidable (15c.), from Latin formidabilis "causing fear, terrible," from formidare "to fear," from formido "fearfulness, fear, terror, dread." Related: Formidably.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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