likely

adjective
like·​ly | \ˈlī-klē \
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

likely

adverb

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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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

She’s created a reptilian version that’s dotted with snake ornaments inspired by her love for OTT ‘80s fashion, an attention-grabbing accessory that’s likely to come slithering through your feed any day now. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Rihanna-Approved DJ Sita Abellan Launches Her Own Jewelry Line," 6 Dec. 2018 And also why the fight won’t likely end this spring, as the city hopes. Danny Westneat, The Seattle Times, "Political trouble was ‘baked into the cake’ of Seattle’s sweeping upzoning plan," 5 Dec. 2018 If the deal goes through, which still appears to be the most likely outcome, Takeda aims to reduce leverage target to two times Ebitda within the next five years. Charley Grant, WSJ, "Too Cheap to Fail: Big Pharma Deal Presents Enticing Value," 3 Dec. 2018 And as much as making a bag that lasts matters to them, the founders still understand that this new generation of travelers (and likely those who come after) want a brand that gives them the freedom to express their individuality. Lale Arikoglu, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Everyone Wants an Away Suitcase," 26 Nov. 2018 The jury is still out on the cause, but many scientists believe a likely one is pesticides. Rob Dunn, Discover Magazine, "Our Attempts to Eradicate Insects are Just Making them Resistant to Pesticides," 16 Nov. 2018 Gearing up for Halloween likely consists of some combination of cooking all the delicious scary foods, hitting up a pumpkin patch in your state, and binge-watching your favorite horror films for the frightening fun. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Can You Guess How Much These Classic Horror-Film Houses Cost?," 30 Oct. 2018 Childhood trauma likely pushes young adults to join the military in search of a new family, stability, and purpose, says Landolphi. Jim Rendon, Marie Claire, "When Female Veterans Return Home," 29 Oct. 2018 Gillum likely cares little about Trump's analysis and spent most of the debate working to connect DeSantis with the president. Edmund Demarche | Fox News, Fox News, "DeSantis wins tense Florida gubernatorial debate against Gillum, Trump claims," 23 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

And there will likely be a night mode to rival what Google and OnePlus have on their new phones. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "Samsung Galaxy S10 rumors: It won't have a notch but it might have... a hole?," 13 Nov. 2018 The particles would likely possess considerable mass. Adam Hadhazy, Discover Magazine, "Scientists Hunt for A Seeming Paradox: A Magnet With Only One Pole," 13 Nov. 2018 Ferrante will contribute to the script via email, likely in an attempt to protect her legendary anonymity. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "My Brilliant Friend," 20 Sep. 2018 Unlike those platforms, Khan’s new startup will likely be more focused or specialized on particular product categories. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "Snap’s former No. 2 exec Imran Khan is building an online shopping startup," 12 Nov. 2018 Instead, the research suggests that artists who start out seeking connections with powerful curators, dealers and collectors within the nerve center of the art world are far more likely to hit the big time. Kelly Crow, WSJ, "The Surprising Formula for Becoming an Art Star," 8 Nov. 2018 Star Wars and Marvel shows are most likely to inspire fans to plunk down the cash to sign up, particularly as companies like Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix already dominate the space. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Disney announces a second live-action Star Wars show," 8 Nov. 2018 Since Prince Harry and Meghan are the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, their child will likely use Sussex as his or her last name in school or other government paperwork. Eileen Reslen, Town & Country, "Why Harry and Meghan’s Child Will Have a Different Last Name Than Prince George and Princess Charlotte," 15 Oct. 2018 Most likely, Justin was made upset about the news of Selena's recent emotional breakdown on Wednesday. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Justin Bieber Seen Looking Distraught After News of Selena Gomez’s Emotional Breakdown," 12 Oct. 2018

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

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adverb

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for likely

Adjective

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

Adverb

see likely entry 1

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Statistics for likely

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for likely

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

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More Definitions for likely

likely

adjective

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

likely

adverb

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

: without much doubt

likely

adjective
like·​ly | \ˈlī-klē \
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.

likely

adverb

Kids Definition of likely (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on likely

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for likely

Spanish Central: Translation of likely

Nglish: Translation of likely for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of likely for Arabic Speakers

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