sure·​ly | \ ˈshu̇r-lē How to pronounce surely (audio) , 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 If an animal is amassing fat even when deprived of any opportunity to eat a decent meal, even when semi-starved, surely leptin is doing something profound to fat storage other than regulating appetite or even appetite and expenditure. Gary Taubes, STAT, 16 Sep. 2021 And surely everyone in Arizona is rooting for Aidy Bryant. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 16 Sep. 2021 Stewart, who has already garnered Oscar talk from awards prognosticators, speaks in hushed tones throughout the film, striking an English accent that will surely be debated among linguists. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, 15 Sep. 2021 Their refusal Tuesday to remove him from office brings to an end a dramatic and disagreeable chapter in the state’s political history, though the clashes sparked by the recall election will surely persist into next year and beyond. John Myers, Los Angeles Times, 15 Sep. 2021 No word on whether or not Taco Bell plans to roll out the Taco Lover's Pass nationwide, but America's fast food enthusiasts are surely waiting with bated breath. Sabrina Weiss,, 14 Sep. 2021 Before reading the case of the unfortunate Glaswegian girl above, most might say ‘no, surely not, 61%, that’s not feasible’ and think that figure too high. Adrian Bridgwater, Forbes, 14 Sep. 2021 That was known coming into the season, with the Tigers surely hoping North Carolina would build on its 2019 and 2020 seasons and provide a worthy ACC title challenger. Stephen Means, cleveland, 14 Sep. 2021 The state says 93 prisoners and four staffers have died of COVID-19, though critics say those numbers are surely low. Joshua Sharpe, ajc, 14 Sep. 2021

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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Learn More About surely

Time Traveler for surely

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near surely



sure of oneself

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Statistics for surely

Last Updated

18 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Surely.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for surely



English Language Learners Definition of surely

: in a confident way
: without a doubt : certainly
used in negative statements to show surprise that something could be true


sure·​ly | \ ˈshu̇r-lē How to pronounce surely (audio) \

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.

More from Merriam-Webster on surely

Nglish: Translation of surely for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of surely for Arabic Speakers


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