sure·​ly ˈshu̇r-lē How to pronounce surely (audio)
 especially Southern  ˈshȯr-
: in a sure manner:
archaic : without danger or risk of injury or loss : safely
: with assurance : confidently
answered quickly and surely
: without doubt : certainly
they will surely be heard from in the futureR. J. Lifton
: indeed, really
often used as an intensive
you surely don't believe that
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.
Recent Examples on the Web And on April 8, when people gather across parts of Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. to watch the ultra-rare celestial event known as a total solar eclipse, Tyler and Steinman’s masterpiece will surely provide the soundtrack. Craig Marks, TIME, 3 Apr. 2024 Here's where and when to see it Where to look for the devil comet on April 8 The solar eclipse will surely dominate America's attention April 8, but other planets and stars will appear as the sun's light is blocked by the moon. USA TODAY, 2 Apr. 2024 Another of Koenig’s lyrical preoccupations—surely not unrelated—is the unstoppable trudge of time. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, 1 Apr. 2024 The headliners will surely help obliterate any women’s basketball TV ratings records during Monday’s Elite Eight contest. Iliana Limón Romero, Los Angeles Times, 1 Apr. 2024 Two of those goals were scored by Santiago Rodriguez, a Uruguayan midfielder who surely will be motivated playing against Suarez. Michelle Kaufman, Miami Herald, 29 Mar. 2024 If governments can afford to cut taxes that deeply, surely there are more pro-growth places to cut. Jared Walczak, National Review, 22 Mar. 2024 Today that number is surely larger based on its explosive popularity. Irina Ivanova, Fortune, 22 Mar. 2024 In ways that will surely prompt a few winces of viewer recognition, that phone is Angela’s closest companion. Justin Chang, The New Yorker, 22 Mar. 2024

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

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near surely

Cite this Entry

“Surely.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


sure·​ly ˈshu̇(ə)r-lē How to pronounce surely (audio)
: with confidence
answered quickly and surely
: without doubt : certainly
they will surely be heard from again
: beyond question : truly
I surely am tired this afternoon

More from Merriam-Webster on surely

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