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 Trying to copy China is unlikely to be a recipe for success. Dan Pearson, National Review, "Joe Biden’s Protectionist Folly," 28 Apr. 2021 The economic expansion that started in 2020 is unlikely to be an exception. Gad Levanon For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, "The silver lining for workers after a hellish year? A jobs boom," 27 Apr. 2021 His record, which includes a catastrophic mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic, suggests this is highly unlikely. Andre Pagliarini, The New Republic, "Bolsonaro Doesn’t Want to Save the Amazon. He Just Wants to Extort the Countries That Do.," 23 Apr. 2021 On draft day, the price is unlikely to be as exorbitant as what San Francisco paid to get up to three, but will the Broncos be prepared to mortgage future assets for the fourth quarterback taken? Nicholas Mcgee, Forbes, "Denver Broncos NFL Draft Preview: A Talented Team Still Needs A Long-Term Answer At Quarterback," 21 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," 20 Apr. 2021 AC Milan was bounced from the Europa League by Manchester City, so collecting its first notable trophy in a decade is highly unlikely. Jim Reineking, USA TODAY, "Manchester City, Real Madrid lead these very early power rankings of the European Super League's 12 founding clubs," 19 Apr. 2021 Those who do get a shot in the coming months are unlikely to be in their sunset years. Tim Gruver, Washington Examiner, "Oregon races against time to ramp up vaccine rollout as wildfire season looms," 19 Apr. 2021 This is highly unlikely, especially because multiple prequels are in the works—including House of Dragons, which is thought to premiere some time in 2022. Paulina Jayne Isaac, Glamour, "Game of Thrones Tweeted ‘Winter Is Coming,’ and It’s Sending Fans Into Disarray," 15 Apr. 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

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Unlikely.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unlikely. Accessed 9 May. 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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