Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Arousing fear, dread, or alarm.
  • adjective Inspiring awe, admiration, or wonder.
  • adjective Difficult to undertake, surmount, or defeat.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Exciting or fitted to excite fear or apprehension; hard to deal with; difficult to overcome, perform, or the like: applied to persons or things possessing such strength, power, or capability, or presenting such obstacles to action or progress, as to discourage effort or inspire dread of failure.
  • Synonyms Deterrent, discouraging, fearful, appalling, redoubtable.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Exciting fear or apprehension; impressing dread; adapted to excite fear and deter from approach, encounter, or undertaking; alarming.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective causing fear, dread, awe or admiration as a result of size, strength, or some other impressive quality; commanding respect
  • adjective difficult to defeat or overcome

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective extremely impressive in strength or excellence
  • adjective inspiring fear

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin formīdābilis, from formīdāre, to fear, from formīdō, fear.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin formīdābilis ("formidable, terrible"), from formīdō ("fear, dread").

Examples

  • From this latter practice arose their name — CONDOTTIERI; a term formidable all over Italy, for a period, which concluded in the earlier part of the seventeenth century, but of which it is not so easy to ascertain the commencement.

    The Mysteries of Udolpho

  • Fitch cautioned that the country's sovereign ratings remained constrained by relatively low levels of external liquidity as well as what it described as formidable social and structural challenges.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • From this latter practice arose their name -- CONDOTTIERI; a term formidable all over Italy, for a period, which concluded in the earlier part of the seventeenth century, but of which it is not so easy to ascertain the commencement.

    The Mysteries of Udolpho

  • He lauded Kagan for what he described as her formidable intellect and path-breaking career.

    StarTribune.com rss feed

  • He lauded Kagan for what he described as her formidable intellect and path-breaking career.

    Fore, right!

  • I think 'formidable' is appropriate, 'fearful' is applicable in a political sense but 'dreadful' is quite de trop.

    Free Enterprise in Canada

  • Yet formidable is not a strong enough adjective to describe the conditions Richard had to overcome.

    Richard's troublesome tropical journey

  • Needless to say, though the formal table setting has simplified much since the 19th century, the array of flatware, dishes and glasses remain formidable and continue to impose a barrier between the wealthy and the middle - and lower-classes.

    Setting the Table | Edwardian Promenade

  • When I spoke to Huddleston he was full of praise for Shuker, whom he described as a formidable opponent and star of a future Labour government.

    Esther Rantzen and the battle for Luton

  • This is an area surrounded by cacti, standing mature on the rims of cliffs, bleak yet luxuriant in formidable clusters.

    Real de Catorce: an outpost of progress

Comments

New comments are temporarily disabled while we update our database.

  • The H.M.S. Formidable was listed as a "vessel belonging to the army" (British army), captured at Yorktown in 1781.

    October 29, 2007

  • usage on Indomptable

    March 29, 2008