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

Definition of likelihood

: 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.

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Synonyms & Antonyms for likelihood



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Examples of likelihood in a Sentence

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 The industry is also grappling with Brexit and the increasing likelihood of negative interest rates. Simon Clark, WSJ, "British Banks Have Worries Beyond Coronavirus," 30 July 2020 The tool shows the risk level of attending an event in each U.S. county by showing the likelihood of at least one person with coronavirus attending. Abigail Rosenthal, Houston Chronicle, "Will I get COVID-19 at this party? This interactive tool can help you decide the risk of going out," 30 July 2020 Domestic violence concerns have surged during the pandemic, when couples are encouraged to isolate themselves which could increase the likelihood of violence. Scottie Andrew, CNN, "No, the Instagram 'challenge accepted' trend did not originate in Turkey," 30 July 2020 The post also addresses the likelihood of contracting COVID-19 in Ohio. Anna Staver, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Facebook post paints too rosy of a picture for coronavirus impact on Ohio," 13 July 2020 That risk was cut in half — to 16% — when smokers were taken out of the equation, revealing how smoking alone spiked the likelihood of young people being hospitalized or dying from the virus. Mallory Moench,, "One-third of young adults may at risk of severe COVID-19, especially if they smoke or vape," 13 July 2020 Respondents were roughly split on the likelihood of finding a new job. Angus Loten, WSJ, "U.S. Adds More Than 200,000 IT Workers in June," 7 July 2020 Researchers tied variations in six genes to the likelihood of severe disease, including some that could have a role in how vulnerable people are to the virus. CBS News, "Blood types may play role in which COVID patients get sickest," 23 June 2020 Researchers tied variations in six genes to the likelihood of severe illness, while also tying blood groups to potential risk. Fox News, "Certain blood type may limit risk from COVID-19, other may hurt, study suggests," 18 June 2020

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.

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First Known Use of likelihood

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for likelihood

see likely entry 1

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Time Traveler for likelihood

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for likelihood

Last Updated

3 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Likelihood.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for likelihood


How to pronounce likelihood (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of likelihood

: the chance that something will happen


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

Kids Definition of likelihood

: probability sense 1 In all likelihood we will go.

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