like·​ly | \ ˈlī-klē How to pronounce likely (audio) \
likelier; likeliest

Definition of likely

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having a high probability of occurring or being true : very probable rain is likely today
2 : apparently qualified : suitable a likely place
3 : reliable, credible a likely enough story
4 : promising a likely candidate
5 : attractive a likely child



Definition of likely (Entry 2 of 2)

: in all probability : probably those who seek power will most likely wind up exercising it— Halton Arp

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Synonyms & Antonyms for likely

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Adverb

Antonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adverb

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Examples of likely in a Sentence

Adjective That seems to be the most likely explanation. This looks like a likely spot for a picnic. They regard him as a likely candidate for the job. Adverb He'll very likely be late. “Will it rain tomorrow?” “Most likely.”
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective People who were vaccinated earlier in the year were more likely to have breakthrough infections compared to people who were vaccinated several months later, Miller said. NBC News, 14 Oct. 2021 Other recent research from Dartmouth has revealed that, relative to men, women who brought strong (and, importantly, identical) backup offers to the salary bargaining table were more likely to end up at an impasse, with no raise. Laura Kray And Margaret Lee, WSJ, 14 Oct. 2021 But unpopular investments are more likely to deliver spectacular results. Chris Taylor, Fortune, 14 Oct. 2021 Researchers found that those who got their shots had fewer symptoms four months later and were more likely to improve, with full recovery rates of 17 percent versus 8 percent among the vaccinated and unvaccinated, respectively. San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Oct. 2021 Still, despite the uncertainty, parents are more likely to support McAuliffe over Youngkin in the race (53-43 percent). Fox News, 14 Oct. 2021 Medical conditions: People with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and thyroid problems are more likely to have dry eye symptoms, per the NEI. Jenny Mccoy,, 14 Oct. 2021 More serious health problems, such as unusual heart rhythm or blood clots, are exceedingly rare -- and in fact, are more likely to happen to an unvaccinated person who becomes sick with COVID-19 than with the vaccine itself. Dr. Jess Dawson, ABC News, 14 Oct. 2021 For instance, the wealthy are more likely to receive income from capital gains and assets such as real estate and businesses than the typical worker, whose earnings are reported to the IRS via tax forms such as W2s and 1099s. Irina Ivanova, CBS News, 14 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb However, this bill results in significant cost pressures to the state, likely in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle, 15 Oct. 2021 Of those respondents likely to vote for Wu, the poll found that controlling housing costs was a top-priority issue for them in the race, followed closely by improving Boston Public Schools., 14 Oct. 2021 There will be a chance of showers and thunderstorms in the morning, then more showers likely after 2pm. Jane Morice |, cleveland, 12 Oct. 2021 Blue Spear’s active radar allows it to zero in on its target all on its own—but only after the missile closes within seeker range, likely no more than a few miles. David Axe, Forbes, 12 Oct. 2021 Marcano, a sophomore at Orlando’s Valencia College was killed, likely by a maintenance worker at her apartment complex later found dead of apparent suicide. Susannah Bryan,, 10 Oct. 2021 Hospitals reported surprisingly high numbers of toddlers coming in with severe cases, likely because they were not exposed as infants in the early months of lockdown. Arkansas Online, 9 Oct. 2021 Not likely, based on the Aggies’ first five games of offensive ineptitude. Brent Zwerneman, San Antonio Express-News, 8 Oct. 2021 After the Final Four, Auriemma said his team was immature, likely a product of its relative youth and inexperience. Alexa Philippou,, 7 Oct. 2021

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for likely

Adjective and Adverb

Middle English, from Old English gelīclic fitting (from gelīc like) and Old Norse glīkligr, līkligr, from glīkr like; akin to Old English gelīc

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Time Traveler for likely

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

16 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Likely.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for likely



English Language Learners Definition of likely

 (Entry 1 of 2)

used to indicate the chance that something will happen
: seeming to be true : believable
: seeming to be right or suited for a purpose



English Language Learners Definition of likely (Entry 2 of 2)

: without much doubt : probably


like·​ly | \ ˈlī-klē How to pronounce likely (audio) \
likelier; likeliest

Kids Definition of likely

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : very possibly going to happen That glass is likely to fall.
2 : seeming to be the truth : believable That is the most likely explanation.
3 : giving hope of turning out well : promising They found a likely spot for a picnic.



Kids Definition of likely (Entry 2 of 2)

: without great doubt She will likely be elected class president.

More from Merriam-Webster on likely

Nglish: Translation of likely for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of likely for Arabic Speakers


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