Definition of formidable in English:


Pronunciation: /ˈfɔːmɪdəb(ə)l//fəˈmɪdəb(ə)l/


  • Inspiring fear or respect through being impressively large, powerful, intense, or capable.

    ‘a formidable opponent’
    • ‘His accomplishments were formidable during the first three decades of his reign.’
    • ‘Yet for a chef who shoots from the mouth, Ramsay inspires formidable loyalty.’
    • ‘He assuredly bumped off a formidable array of erstwhile friends and possible rivals.’
    • ‘A formidable array of armour and troops roared through in a never ending stream.’
    • ‘Whoever it was, they have assembled a formidable array of talent and spent a lot of money.’
    • ‘The trick will be to blend this talent into a formidable team by championship time.’
    • ‘In Hassan, though, he came up against a formidable opponent and a smart street fighter.’
    • ‘Bayern would look more formidable if they could get two of their most talented midfielders fully fit.’
    • ‘Among a formidable list of opponents, the American Deena Kastor may be the most dangerous.’
    • ‘Pittodrie presently holds one of the most formidable fear factors in the Premierleague.’
    • ‘In the face of such formidable colleagues, Jo's desire to impress and succeed is even more acute.’
    • ‘The first game after the enforced break was a tough encounter against formidable opponents.’
    • ‘This made him a formidable thinker but his knowledge and expertise did not just come from midnight oil.’
    • ‘As for Johnson, the old Lion may be getting a bit long in the tooth but he is still a formidable opponent.’
    • ‘What we do know is that she has a formidable mind, powerful admirers and a yellow plastic digger on her desk.’
    • ‘It was an emphatic victory and formidable testimony to his talent and determination.’
    • ‘The doctrine in detail is one of formidable complexity, but its basic principle is simple.’
    • ‘The shipbuilders have been playing well and are formidable opponents for anyone on their own patch.’
    • ‘That brings a formidable new dimension to the conflict, further magnified by its global scale.’
    • ‘He has built a formidable reputation on challenging the corporate orthodoxy.’
    capable, able, proficient, adept, adroit, accomplished
    intimidating, forbidding, redoubtable, daunting, alarming, frightening, terrifying, petrifying, horrifying, chilling, disturbing, disquieting, dreadful, brooding, awesome, fearsome, ominous, foreboding, sinister, menacing, mean-looking, threatening, dangerous
    onerous, arduous, taxing, difficult, hard, heavy, laborious, burdensome, strenuous, vigorous, back-breaking, stiff, uphill, relentless, herculean, monumental, colossal
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There are two possible pronunciations of formidable: one with the stress on the for- and the other with the stress on the -mid-. The second pronunciation is now common in British English, but the traditional pronunciation places the stress on the first syllable. Both pronunciations are acceptable in modern standard English


Late Middle English: from French, or from Latin formidabilis, from formidare to fear.