unlikely

adjective

un·​like·​ly ˌən-ˈlī-klē How to pronounce unlikely (audio)
1
: not likely : improbable
an unlikely outcome
2
: likely to fail : unpromising

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.
Recent Examples on the Web The classic ska-punk group’s show was among the most unlikely and surprising of the weekend, marking No Doubt’s first show together in nine years. Tomás Mier, Rolling Stone, 14 Apr. 2024 All the while, the vendor Berman claimed to be working with kept telling him that his test method was unlikely to be scientifically viable. Amanda Gerut, Fortune, 13 Apr. 2024 The prospect of such places, of course, remains highly unlikely. Tribune News Service, The Mercury News, 12 Apr. 2024 Former president Thuong’s resignation was unlikely to be the last and political infighting would likely persist until 2026, Le Hong Hiep, from the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, said in a previous report. Heather Chen, CNN, 12 Apr. 2024 California and Texas have seceded, becoming unlikely allies in a campaign to retake the capital. Joshua Rothkopf, Los Angeles Times, 11 Apr. 2024 The unlikely spread among cattle and one dairy worker has scientists looking through the data to better understand this spillover. Will Stone, NPR, 11 Apr. 2024 His bid for a new trial was rejected by a Nevada judge, and legal experts said that appeals were unlikely to succeed. Robert D. McFadden, New York Times, 11 Apr. 2024 Forming a reluctant trust between them, the unlikely duo set off on a two-week-long adventure seeking out a woman named Moldaver (Sarita Choudhury) — to say why would be a spoiler. Aramide Tinubu, Variety, 10 Apr. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'unlikely.' 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 unlikely was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near unlikely

Cite this Entry

“Unlikely.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unlikely. Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

unlikely

adjective
un·​like·​ly ˌən-ˈlī-klē How to pronounce unlikely (audio)
ˈən-
1
: not likely : improbable
an unlikely story
2
: likely to fail : unpromising
an unlikely place for fishing
unlikeliness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on unlikely

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!