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 These are early days, but the group is getting ready for what will likely be another busy year, so more placements are surely in the near future. Hugh Mcintyre, Forbes, "BTS Hit The Hot 100 In Japanese For The First Time With ‘Film Out’," 12 Apr. 2021 And even after what surely was a nightmarish final chapter for him with the Jets, there was a reminder of what could have been and what kind of person the Jets were moving on from. Andy Vasquez, USA TODAY, "Sam Darnold on Jets exit: 'My expectations were to go in there, play 20 years and win Super Bowls'," 12 Apr. 2021 This season’s most daunting casting challenge surely must have been the largest ensemble film among the best picture Oscar nominees. Hugh Hart, Los Angeles Times, "With more than 8 key roles, you’d think casting ‘Chicago 7' would be tough. It wasn’t," 6 Apr. 2021 However, the Ducks are going to replenish via the transfer portal and surely that style of defender, which Dana Altman absolutely loves, will be a high priority. oregonlive, "Who replaces Chris Duarte, Eugene Omoruyi for Oregon men’s basketball in 2021-22?," 6 Apr. 2021 Part of it is surely the massive amount of hair happening here, right? Maggie Fremont,, "American Idol recap: Josh Groban’s All-Star Duet with Ava August leaves the judges in disbelief," 6 Apr. 2021 That connection surely could be prosperous again in Cincinnati. Safid Deen,, "Safid Deen’s first-round 2021 NFL mock draft: Who will Dolphins select at picks 6 and 18?," 5 Apr. 2021 The tropical getaway is surely a sight worth traveling for. Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, "The Best Room At ... Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort," 4 Apr. 2021 At least one visit to Ohio State will surely be on the docket before a final decision is made. Kyle Kelly, cleveland, "Earnest Greene, 4-star guard, one step closer to following Wyatt Davis’ footsteps: Buckeyes Recruiting Roundup," 2 Apr. 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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Time Traveler for surely

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for surely

Last Updated

15 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

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

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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 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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Comments on surely

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