like·​ly | \ ˈlī-klē How to pronounce likely (audio) \
likelier; likeliest

Definition of likely

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having a high probability of occurring or being true : very probable rain is likely today
2 : apparently qualified : suitable a likely place
3 : reliable, credible a likely enough story
4 : promising a likely candidate
5 : attractive a likely child



Definition of likely (Entry 2 of 2)

: in all probability : probably those who seek power will most likely wind up exercising it— Halton Arp

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Synonyms & Antonyms for likely

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Adverb

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adverb

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Examples of likely in a Sentence

Adjective That seems to be the most likely explanation. This looks like a likely spot for a picnic. They regard him as a likely candidate for the job. Adverb He'll very likely be late. “Will it rain tomorrow?” “Most likely.”
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The higher the number, the more likely that your Wi-Fi call will experience things like dropouts, echoes and poor voice quality, especially for the person on the other end. Ken Colburn, The Arizona Republic, "Experiencing bad voice quality when using Wi-Fi calling on your iPhone? Try these tips," 10 May 2021 Craig said the interim chief will be most likely an internal choice and if Duggan chooses an interim chief before his June 1 departure, then the two will collaborate to smooth the transition. Miriam Marini, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Police Chief James Craig to retire, won't say whether he's running for governor," 10 May 2021 Kristie Smith, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, said those along the Massachusetts coast will be most likely to see the launch between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., with 20 to 30 percent cloud cover expected in those areas., "NASA is launching a rocket Monday night, and some Mass. residents might be able to catch a glimpse," 10 May 2021 This would be most likely to happen in a jurisdiction like Washington state, which mandates nearly all cannabis compliance data to be publicly available. Jessica Billingsley, Rolling Stone, "My Thoughts on What’s Real and What’s Hype Regarding Blockchain, Cannabis and Cryptocurrency," 10 May 2021 What would be best for most office workers—and what’s most likely to happen for many of them—is something between the extremes of old-school office work and digital nomadism. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, "The Ideal Number of Days to Work From Home," 10 May 2021 But that’s less likely to be the case in recent years, now that women are more involved in the creation of movies and are showing that there are as many ways to depict a mom as there are moms. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "The 7 best movie moms are loving, sometimes flawed characters," 9 May 2021 Basically, the most likely places to spot snow will be just far enough away from the Great Lakes to avoid the milder air near them and places with elevations similar to Northwestern Pennsylvania. Jeff Berardelli, CBS News, "Rare Mother's Day snow possible from Illinois through Pennsylvania," 9 May 2021 That’s not likely to happen until 2022, at which point Musk’s decade-old prediction of declining credit sales becomes a reality. Alan Ohnsman, Forbes, "Pollution Credit Cash Powered Tesla’s Profit Streak, But Its Top Customer Is Done Buying," 6 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Coinbase will likely not be able to sustain blowout earnings going forward as competition enters the market. David Trainer, Forbes, "Strong Earnings Won’t Stop Coinbase’s Slump," 11 May 2021 Its headlights look similar to the Toyota's, and the Subaru version will likely be the same size as the Toyota, which fits into the compact-crossover segment alongside models such as the RAV4 and Forester. Joey Capparella, Car and Driver, "Subaru EV Will Be Called Solterra, Arrives in 2022," 11 May 2021 The verification process for vaccinations or negative tests is a work in progress, but the Bowl expects that by July, some kind of digital system likely will be available. Jessica Gelt, Los Angeles Times, "Hollywood Bowl reserves 85% of seats for vaccinated guests. Everything you need to know," 11 May 2021 Young teens will likely soon be able to follow in their older siblings and be vaccinated against COVID-19. Shari Rudavsky, The Indianapolis Star, "When you can sign up your 12- to 15-year-old to get the COVID vaccine," 11 May 2021 Ti will likely be quite a step down from the gaming performance of existing RTX 30-series laptops. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3050 GPUs finally bring ray tracing and DLSS to the laptop masses," 11 May 2021 According to footage that appeared on social media, the tiger was wearing a collar and was likely a pet. Michael Hollan, Fox News, "Tiger filmed roaming Houston neighborhood while off-duty cop tries to protect his neighbors," 10 May 2021 Trump would likely still be on Facebook and Twitter., "All Republican headlines around the country have the same origin: Trump’s Big Lie," 10 May 2021 The Suns own the tiebreaker, can still catch the Jazz, who play Monday at Golden State (35-33), but will likely be a second seed. Duane Rankin, The Arizona Republic, "Countdown to playoffs: Suns postseason hopes already over after falling to Lakers?," 10 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'likely.' 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 likely


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for likely

Adjective and Adverb

Middle English, from Old English gelīclic fitting (from gelīc like) and Old Norse glīkligr, līkligr, from glīkr like; akin to Old English gelīc

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Time Traveler for likely

Time Traveler

The first known use of likely was in the 14th century

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Statistics for likely

Last Updated

13 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Likely.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for likely



English Language Learners Definition of likely

 (Entry 1 of 2)

used to indicate the chance that something will happen
: seeming to be true
: seeming to be right or suited for a purpose



English Language Learners Definition of likely (Entry 2 of 2)

: without much doubt


like·​ly | \ ˈlī-klē How to pronounce likely (audio) \
likelier; likeliest

Kids Definition of likely

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : very possibly going to happen That glass is likely to fall.
2 : seeming to be the truth : believable That is the most likely explanation.
3 : giving hope of turning out well : promising They found a likely spot for a picnic.



Kids Definition of likely (Entry 2 of 2)

: without great doubt She will likely be elected class president.

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