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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Synonyms & Antonyms for unlikely



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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 This is unlikely to be the case in many other regions in this country and throughout the world. Nina Shapiro, Forbes, "New Mexico Leads The U.S. In Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout," 15 Apr. 2021 So the biggest threat to Substack is unlikely to be the Twitter-centric political battles among some of its writers. New York Times, "Why We’re Freaking Out About Substack," 11 Apr. 2021 Both Babu and Rao said delivering vaccine doses to Indians was unlikely to be a problem. Arunabh Saikia, Quartz, "Should India open up the Covid-19 vaccines for all age groups?," 8 Apr. 2021 Lawsuits based on claims that the vaccine is ineffective are also unlikely to be successful, Ikuta said. Kristina Davis, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Can your employer require a vaccine? Probably. So can a restaurant or hotel.," 8 Apr. 2021 And changing prices are unlikely to be geographically uniform, as countries update their policies one by one. Sam Kemmis, USA TODAY, "Flight, hotel prices set to take off as more people get vaccinated against COVID-19," 1 Apr. 2021 According to the Mapping Police Violence database, 1,127 people were killed by officers in 2020, and Black people are three times more likely to be killed, despite also being 1.3 times more unlikely to be unarmed. Lydia Wang, refinery29.com, "Everything To Know About The Derek Chauvin Trial," 1 Apr. 2021 In a health alert, the department said this treatment was unlikely to be active against the California variants. Amanda Morris, The Arizona Republic, "ASU watching new COVID-19 'Arizona variant' with a mutation known to weaken vaccines," 1 Apr. 2021 The season still is unlikely to be as busy as last year’s record-breaking season, which generated 30 storms, including 13 hurricanes, subjecting the United States to 12 direct hits and exhausting the storm names selected for that year. David Fleshler, sun-sentinel.com, "Hurricane season: Expect another busy summer, but not as bad as last year, Accu-Weather says," 31 Mar. 2021

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

19 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Unlikely.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unlikely. Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for unlikely



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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