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Definition of formidable

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for·mi·da·ble  audio  (fôrm-d-bl, fôr-md-) KEY 

  1. Arousing fear, dread, or alarm: the formidable prospect of major surgery.
  2. Inspiring awe, admiration, or wonder: "Though a true hero, he was also a thoroughgoing bureaucrat and politician, a formidable combination" (Mario Puzo).
  3. Difficult to undertake, surmount, or defeat: a formidable challenge; a formidable opponent.

Middle English, from Old French, from Latin formdbilis, from formdre, to fear, from formd, fear

formi·da·bili·ty or formi·da·ble·ness(Noun), formi·da·bly(Adverb)
Usage Note:
Traditionally formidable has been pronounced with stress on the first syllable, but recently the pronunciation with stress on the second syllable, which is a common variant in British English, appears to be on the rise in American English. The traditional pronunciation is apparently still preferred by a large majority of educated speakers, however. A recent survey shows that 80 percent of the Usage Panel use the pronunciation (fôrm-d-bl), while 14 percent use (fôr-md-bl). A few Panelists approved both pronunciations.

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