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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. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for formidably
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But that post345 was formidably strong, and by its command of the bridge it was the key to the deliverance of Orleans.

  • "But since you've raised this question I'll insist," said Will formidably.

    The Great Sioux Trail Joseph Altsheler
  • He had never seen her look so frail and small, and he knew that she had never been so formidably strong.

    The Dark Tower Phyllis Bottome
  • Apparently it seemed to the Swede that he was formidably menaced.

  • Any employment was better than hunger—and he had learned that hunger could come swiftly and formidably to him.

    Gladiator Philip Wylie
  • I glanced at him to recognize the square set to the jaw that had impressed me so formidably the year before.

    Americans All Various
  • Mr. Bender indeed, formidably advancing, scarce had use for this assistance.

    The Outcry Henry James
  • Rowena presented a formidably smiling front as she gave her command.

  • A disruption of the Federal Union, heretofore only menaced, is now formidably attempted.

British Dictionary definitions for formidably


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 formidably



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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