like·​li·​hood ˈlī-klē-ˌhu̇d How to pronounce likelihood (audio)
: the chance that something will happen : probability
There's very little likelihood of that happening. [=that is very unlikely to happen]
changes that in all likelihood will be made soon [=changes that are very likely to be made soon]
… a strong likelihood that he is correct …T. D. Anderson
The likelihood of instability might increase because of the economic crisis.Fareed Zakaria
… could reduce the likelihood of a fire in their convenience store by banning smoking in their building …Harriet E. Jones et al.

Example Sentences

There is a strong likelihood that he will be reelected. the weatherman on TV said that the likelihood of rain today was fairly high
Recent Examples on the Web Mack said that as a firefighter with no access to Social Security and an underfunded retirement account, his likelihood of having enough money in retirement is slim. Iris Samuels, Anchorage Daily News, 3 Feb. 2023 Many of California’s largest fires in recent years have started during intense heat waves, which are becoming hotter, longer and more frequent due to global warming, increasing their likelihood of contributing to conflagrations, said Williams. Hayley Smithstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 31 Jan. 2023 Tax practitioners are not permitted to advise clients based on their likelihood of being found out. Howard Gleckman, Forbes, 27 Jan. 2023 Some of the respondents said the mandate increased their likelihood of signing up. Rachel Looker, USA TODAY, 2 Jan. 2023 Mammals, birds, and other animals that rely on the impaired San Pedro and Babocomari for hydration and as a food source will also be exposed to the high concentrations of E. coli, increasing their likelihood for sickness and premature death. Jake Frederico, The Arizona Republic, 1 Jan. 2023 Gaining 20 pounds increases your likelihood of developing coronary heart disease by 12% and your risk of stroke by 24%. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 17 Nov. 2022 Davila’s decision ultimately will incorporate numerous factors: the intricacies of the fraud charges, his sympathy for Holmes’ abuse allegations, her likelihood for re-offending, among others. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 14 Nov. 2022 Being bullied and experiencing other adverse social events may increase your likelihood of developing body dysmorphia later on in life, according to materials published by the Mayo Clinic. Zee Krstic, Good Housekeeping, 7 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'likelihood.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


see likely entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of likelihood was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near likelihood

Cite this Entry

“Likelihood.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


like·​li·​hood ˈlī-klē-ˌhu̇d How to pronounce likelihood (audio)

More from Merriam-Webster on likelihood

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