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 intensiveyou 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 Klobuchar surely will continue to challenge Buttigieg in the moderate lane. Chris Sikich, Indianapolis Star, "Buttigieg heads into Nevada as a front-runner. Will his lead hold in more diverse states?," 13 Feb. 2020 Those who bought bonds from modern Greece eight years ago when their yield topped 44% and held on are surely flashing their pearly whites. Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "From Apocalypse Now to Acropolis Wow," 13 Feb. 2020 And the fact that unaffiliated voters, or independents, are allowed to participate in the Democratic primary there surely helped Klobuchar. Natalie Gontcharova,, "Amy Klobuchar’s Rise & Elizabeth Warren’s Solidarity: New Hampshire Showed Women Can Win," 12 Feb. 2020 And in a crisis, gritty determination and commitment are surely more useful than timid hesitation. Ryan Cooper, TheWeek, "Hey Democrats, it's okay to vote for Bernie Sanders," 12 Feb. 2020 The results don't matter, and the club is surely experimenting with lineup, formations and tactics. Pat Brennan,, "Here's what to watch for during FC Cincinnati's preseason camp at IMG Academy in Florida," 10 Feb. 2020 This is one of the priciest methods, but most efficient: buying more memory for your computer should surely give you a speed boost. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "How To Fix Your Super Slow Computer," 9 Feb. 2020 The Bears surely expected to make the playoffs and have a draft pick in the low 20s or 30s when the trade was made. Ben Volin,, "Why most of the country was rooting for Andy Reid in the Super Bowl," 8 Feb. 2020 For those with fond memories of the glory days of the auto show—which surely applies to most of the automotive media—that's a bittersweet reality to accept. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Supersized trucks and SUVs seem here to stay, unlike the auto show," 7 Feb. 2020

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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Time Traveler for surely

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Surely.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for surely


How to pronounce surely (audio)

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 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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on surely

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for surely

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with surely

Spanish Central: Translation of surely

Nglish: Translation of surely for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of surely for Arabic Speakers

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