1 of 2


like·​ly ˈlī-klē How to pronounce likely (audio)
likelier; likeliest
: having a high probability of occurring or being true : very probable
rain is likely today
: apparently qualified : suitable
a likely place
: reliable, credible
a likely enough story
: promising
a likely candidate
: attractive
a likely child


2 of 2


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

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.”
Recent Examples on the Web
Szabo’s report, issued Tuesday, is likely to fuel calls for the council to scale back the LAPD’s hiring goal. David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times, 15 Feb. 2024 The top two challenges facing House District 91 in Texas are likely education funding and economic development. Harrison Mantas, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 15 Feb. 2024 The overnight timing means that snow is likely to accumulate on untreated roads even though temperatures will start out above freezing. Dan Stillman, Washington Post, 15 Feb. 2024 In a civil case, like the case the Serna family has brought, the standard is lower — a preponderance of the evidence, essentially that an allegation is more likely to be true than not true. Teri Figueroa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Feb. 2024 Trump's comments have not only sent a wave of unease through Europe but are also likely to be a major topic of conversation at the annual Munich Security Conference, starting later this week in the Bavarian city. Lorne Cook and Matthew Lee The Associated Press,, 15 Feb. 2024 Another study found that even women who complained of symptoms consistent with heart disease, including the typical chest pain, were twice as likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness than men who complained of identical symptoms. Eva Epker, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 So a signing is likely in the next week or two. ▪ Rest awaits, except for Adebayo, Jaquez Jr. and two-way players Cole Swider and Alondes Williams. Adebayo will play in Sunday night’s All Star game in Indianapolis. Barry Jackson, Miami Herald, 15 Feb. 2024 The development is likely to attract other data center development. Christine Condon, Baltimore Sun, 15 Feb. 2024
Milan would only likely contemplate selling Leao for north of $129m, with the Rossoneri knowing PSG need to make a statement in order to save face following Mbappe’s departure. Emmet Gates, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 Snow was moving into the Kansas City area shortly before 7 a.m. and will likely continue into the afternoon for some areas in the region. Robert A. Cronkleton, Kansas City Star, 16 Feb. 2024 The bubonic plague is caused by Yersinia pestis, a bacterium that was likely first introduced in North America around 1900 from rats on ships coming from South Asia, according to Timothy Brewer, M.D., professor of medicine and epidemiology at UCLA. Melissa Rudy, Fox News, 16 Feb. 2024 The state legislature would likely have to work with Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, who, according to spokesperson Brandon Charochak, remains opposed to Medicaid expansion. Daniel Chang, CBS News, 16 Feb. 2024 The police chief said 1 million people likely attended the parade, which occurred in a city of about 470,000 people and a metropolitan area of about 2 million, but stressed that the violence was wrought by just a handful of people. Heather Hollingsworth,, 16 Feb. 2024 My research also suggests that the U.S. will likely not sell its advanced Reaper drones to Ukraine, fearing crisis escalation with Russia. Paul Lushenko, The Conversation, 16 Feb. 2024 Isolated power outages also are possible from increasingly heavy winds that the NWS said will likely blow gusts between 30-to-45 mph in most areas. Rick Hurd, The Mercury News, 16 Feb. 2024 The Kings will likely explore the market again this summer, but this is the team that will lead them into the stretch run. Jason Anderson, Sacramento Bee, 16 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'likely.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near likely

Cite this Entry

“Likely.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
like·​ly ˈlī-klē How to pronounce likely (audio)
likelier; likeliest
: very possibly going to happen
it's likely to start raining any time
: seeming to be the truth : believable
a likely story
: giving hope of turning out well : promising
a likely spot for a picnic
a likely looking customer


2 of 2 adverb
: without great doubt : probably
the first loaves of bread people made were likely hard and flat

More from Merriam-Webster on likely

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