Definition of unlikely in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˌənˈlīklē/

adjective (unlikelier, unlikeliest)

Not likely to happen, be done, or be true; improbable: an unlikely explanation it is unlikely that they will ever be used [with infinitive]: the change is unlikely to affect many people
More example sentences
  • This fact reveals why it is unlikely that true memory could have evolved in plants.
  • Cunnah is unlikely to let something like a labour dispute distract him from the job in hand.
  • It is possible but highly unlikely that he could compel his victim to attend the trial.
implausible, improbable, questionable, unconvincing, far-fetched, unrealistic, incredible, unbelievable, inconceivable, unimaginable;
absurd, preposterous
informal tall



Pronunciation: /ˌənˈlīklēˌho͝od/
Example sentences
  • There's also a mounting seriousness of tone that doesn't sit entirely well with the plot's concatenation of coincidences and unlikelihoods.
  • ‘Given the unlikelihood of my resuming on the bench, I decided that it would be appropriate that I should tender my resignation,’ he said.
  • In view of the unlikelihood of a regional airline coming into existence, the minister gave the assurance that the Government was obliged to keep BWIA flying but with significant restructuring.


Example sentences
  • I know of an example of this happening in life (the older mother getting off with the daughter's bit-of-rough boyfriend), but the casting here (Daniel Craig and Anne Reid - both marvellous) tended to emphasise its unlikeliness.
  • Despite the unlikeliness of the heroes it doesn't contain a nuance of irony (which is perhaps why Kurt Russell as Brooks can wear plaid jackets without looking retro, much less cheesy.)
  • But if you think about it, the story's unlikeliness is pretty apparent.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: un·like·ly

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.