un·​like·​ly | \ ˌən-ˈlī-klē How to pronounce unlikely (audio) \

Definition of unlikely

1 : not likely : improbable an unlikely outcome
2 : likely to fail : unpromising

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Examples of unlikely in a Sentence

He was an unlikely candidate for the position. A big city seems like an unlikely place to find wildlife. I received support from an unlikely ally.
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Recent Examples on the Web While most names on the list were the usual suspects such as Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines and T Venkattram Reddy’s Deccan Chronicle Holding, an unlikely contender, REI Agro, beat them with a Rs4,314 crore ($575 million) default. Prathamesh Mulye, Quartz India, "The world’s largest basmati rice producer is now one of India’s top loan defaulters," 23 May 2020 Hot cars aren't hot enough, though Heat causing the hand sanitizer to combust is extremely unlikely, however. Weldon B. Johnson, azcentral, "You probably shouldn't leave hand sanitizer in the car during the Arizona heat. Here's why," 22 May 2020 An unlikely casualty of the coronavirus pandemic, independent medical practices are experiencing severe financial strain, according to a Texas Medical Association survey of physicians released Wednesday. Raga Justin, ExpressNews.com, "Survey: Texas doctors report drop in revenue since pandemic," 22 May 2020 Preston stands in a courtyard with the other gang members amid an unlikely truce, bowing his head as Danny, a senior member of the Hard Livings, says a prayer. Gerald Imray, The Christian Science Monitor, "An unlikely truce: Cape Town gangs deliver food amid lockdown," 22 May 2020 The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes rewinds the epic story 64 years before the infamous actions of Katniss Everdeen and explores the games through the unique view of an unlikely character. Dallas News, "Suzanne Collins’ ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ delivers," 22 May 2020 It’s unlikely lap dances would get the green light from the Alabama Department of Public Health just yet. Michael Casagrande | Mcasagrande@al.com, al, "Alabama strip clubs open, not revealing pandemic lap dance policy," 21 May 2020 The circumstances required—sediments buried in precisely the right way—were just too unlikely. Charlie Wood, Popular Science, "Mud volcanoes on Mars hint at ancient water reservoirs," 21 May 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for unlikely

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for unlikely

Last Updated

26 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Unlikely.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unlikely. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for unlikely


How to pronounce unlikely (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of unlikely

: not likely
: not seeming to be right or suited for a purpose


un·​like·​ly | \ ən-ˈlī-klē How to pronounce unlikely (audio) \
unlikelier; unlikeliest

Kids Definition of unlikely

1 : not likely an unlikely story
2 : not promising This is an unlikely place for fishing.

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Comments on unlikely

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