sure·ly | \ˈshu̇r-lē, ˈshər-, especially Southern ˈshȯr-\

Definition of surely 

1 : in a sure manner:

a archaic : without danger or risk of injury or loss : safely

b(1) : with assurance : confidently answered quickly and surely

(2) : without doubt : certainly they will surely be heard from in the future— R. J. Lifton

2 : indeed, really often used as an intensive you surely don't believe that

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Sure vs. Surely: Usage Guide

Most commentators consider the adverb sure to be something less than completely standard; surely is usually recommended as a substitute. Our current evidence shows, however, that sure and surely have become differentiated in use. Sure is used in much more informal contexts than surely. It is used as a simple intensive I can never know how much I bored her, but, be certain, she sure amused me — Norman Mailer and, because it connotes strong affirmation, it is used when the speaker or writer expects to be agreed with. it's a moot point whether politicians are less venal than in Twain's day. But they're sure as the devil more intrusive — Alan Abelson he sure gets them to play — D. S. Looney Surely, like sure, is used as a simple intensive I surely don't want to leave the impression that I had an unhappy childhood — E. C. Welsh but it occurs in more formal contexts than sure. Unlike sure it may be used neutrally—the reader or hearer may or may not agree it would surely be possible, within a few years, to program a computer to construct a grammar — Noam Chomsky and it is often used when the writer is trying to persuade. surely a book on the avant-garde cannot be so conventional — Karl Shapiro

Examples of surely in a Sentence

She answered quickly and surely. He will surely be missed. This is surely the best dessert you have ever made. Surely you must admit that it was a good decision.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Sure, Williams is financially loaded compared to most of us, and surely has a team of people to help her (providing cooking, and cleaning, and child care, and athletic training, and medical care, for starters). Michelle Garcia, Vox, "Serena Williams, working mom hero," 11 July 2018 With so many people marching and magnifying the cry for change, whether their platform is big or small, surely things will have to change. Sarah Midkiff,, "Chrissy Teigen, Kerry Washington & More Joined Families Belong Together To March," 30 June 2018 Get our daily newsletter But the restaurant’s imminent death surely has something to do with the decline in political drinking. The Economist, "Last orders for political drinking," 31 May 2018 The hard right of the GOP triumphed in 2010, so surely, the hard left of the Democratic Party must be triumphing now. David Weigel, Washington Post, "Five lessons from this week’s primaries," 23 May 2018 In fact, much of Volcanoes National Park remains open to visitors, who are surely having a very unique experience right now. Wes Siler, Outside Online, "Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Erupts," 4 May 2018 Even though Emily stabbed her in the shoulder and kicked her down a flight of stairs in Season 2's finale, surely this is not the end for Ann Dowd's fearsome (and Emmy-winning) portrayal of the matronly enforcer Aunt Lydia. Hank Stuever,, "We survived another grueling season of 'The Handmaid's Tale,' but here are 3 things we need from Season 3," 12 July 2018 Beatz is surely just one of the hip-hop heavy hitters who are lining up to work with Mill since his release. Dan Deluca,, "Philly anthem 'Millidelphia' headlines Meek Mill's 'Legends of the Summer' EP," 6 July 2018 There will surely be fans who are legitimately cheering them on in the fight, but a significant percentage of onlookers are crossing their fingers that KSI and Deji give the Paul brothers what’s coming to them. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "Logan and Jake Paul’s fight with KSI is shaping up to be deeply embarrassing," 22 June 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Phrases Related to surely

slowly but surely

Statistics for surely

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for surely

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

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More Definitions for surely



English Language Learners Definition of surely

: in a confident way

: without a doubt

—used in negative statements to show surprise that something could be true


sure·ly | \ˈshu̇r-lē \

Kids Definition of surely

1 : without doubt It's a book you will surely enjoy.

2 : beyond question : really I surely do miss them.

3 : with confidence : confidently He answered their questions surely.

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Comments on surely

What made you want to look up surely? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not any or not one

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