Definition of likely in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈlīklē/

adjective (likelier, likeliest)

1Such as well might happen or be true; probable: the likely effects of the drought on sugar beet yields it was likely that he would make a televised statement sales are likely to drop further
More example sentences
  • It is likely that many Australian homes do not even have a Bible, and those that do, leave it unread.
  • If the legs move at each strain it is likely that the cow will calve without too much trouble.
  • We are still finalising the design but it is likely that these specific premises will be affected.
probable, distinctly possible, to be expected, odds-on, possible, plausible, imaginable;
expected, anticipated, predictable, predicted, foreseeable
informal in the cards
2Apparently suitable; promising: a likely-looking spot
More example sentences
  • Fay's apparent sweet tooth is likely to be rooted in a problem with blood sugar balance.
  • I was just in a foul mood or something like that, most likely, so accept my humblest apologies.
  • One reason for Essex's likely limitation on imported labour is the high cost of housing.
suitable, appropriate, apposite, fit, fitting, acceptable, right;
promising, hopeful


Probably: we will most likely go to a bar
More example sentences
  • By the laws of probability, the culprit was most likely an obnoxious American tourist.
  • Maybe even him, if he was strong enough, but more then likely the older females would fight.
  • I explained it was most likely the blonde hair making my skin colour look different in contrast.
probably, in all probability, presumably, no doubt, doubtlessly
informal (as) like as not, chances are



a likely story

Used to express disbelief in an account or excuse: Gone running, has he? A likely story!
More example sentences
  • The Timaeus, however, presents itself not as serious cosmology but merely as a likely story, an example of the kind of account that Plato thinks is the right one to give; it is poetic and grandiose in style.
  • Craccum: rehashing news from the Dominion Post on the legal action, and ignoring a likely story about why the University of Auckland was the best in the country - research wise at least.
  • The gentleman told me his name was ‘John’, a likely story, I thought to myself and that it was his ‘sixth day at the gym’.
unlikely, implausible, unbelievable, incredible, untenable, unacceptable, inconceivable

as likely as not

Probably. I won’t take their pills because as likely as not they’d poison me
More example sentences
  • If you're passing a truck driver on the road today, give them a wave because as likely as not, they'll be mourning the death of a troubadour they called their own, Slim Dusty.
  • But a speeding motorist can kill an innocent child, and as likely as not, they will only face a small fine, points on their licence ó if they have one ó and a short driving ban.
  • References to almost every field of knowledge, from archaeology to zoology, are as likely as not to be wrong.

not likely!

informal Certainly not; I refuse: “Are you going home?” “Not likely!”



Example sentences
  • These questions address different aspects of confidence relating to the size of bribes, the possibility of additional requests, and the likeliness of opportunism.
  • A final possibility centres around a likeliness that exercise success here was more due to the presence of fun and enjoyment, than the use of distraction.
  • Yet another problem is the high degree of likeliness that a defendant possibly subject to the death penalty if found guilty will be found guilty.


Middle English: from Old Norse líkligr, from líkr (see like1).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: like·ly

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