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

1400–50; late Middle English < French < Latin formīdābilis causing fear, equivalent to formīd- (stem of formīdāre to fear) + -ābilis -able
Related formsfor·mi·da·ble·ness, for·mi·da·bil·i·ty, nounfor·mi·da·bly, adverbnon·for·mi·da·bil·i·ty, nounnon·for·mi·da·ble, adjectivenon·for·mi·da·ble·ness, nounnon·for·mi·da·bly, adverbqua·si-for·mi·da·ble, adjectivequa·si-for·mi·da·bly, adverbsu·per·for·mi·da·ble, adjectivesu·per·for·mi·da·ble·ness, nounsu·per·for·mi·da·bly, adverbun·for·mi·da·ble, adjectiveun·for·mi·da·ble·ness, nounun·for·mi·da·bly, adverb
Can be confusedformative formidable

Synonyms for formidable

Antonyms for formidable Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for formidable

Contemporary Examples of formidable

Historical Examples of formidable

  • 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.

  • 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, etca formidable problem
tending to inspire awe or admiration because of great size, strength, excellence, etc
Derived Formsformidability or formidableness, nounformidably, adverb

Word Origin for formidable

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

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