Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Possessing or displaying the qualities or characteristics that make something probable: They are likely to become angry with him.
  • adj. Within the realm of credibility; plausible: not a very likely excuse.
  • adj. Apparently appropriate or suitable: There were several likely candidates for the job.
  • adj. Apt to achieve success or yield a desired outcome; promising: a likely topic for investigation.
  • adj. Attractive; pleasant: found a likely spot under a shady tree for the picnic.
  • adv. Usage Problem Probably.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. probable; having a greater-than-even chance of occurring
  • adj. probable; Possessing or displaying the qualities or characteristics that make something probable
  • adj. appropriate, suitable; believable; having a good potential
  • adj. plausible; Within the realm of credibility
  • adj. promising; Apt to achieve success or yield a desired outcome
  • adj. attractive; pleasant
  • adj. Reasonably to be expected; apparently destined.
  • adv. Similarly.
  • adv. Probably.
  • n. Something or somebody considered likely.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Worthy of belief; probable; credible.
  • adj. Having probability; having or giving reason to expect; -- followed by the infinitive.
  • adj. Similar; like; alike.
  • adj. Such as suits; good-looking; pleasing; agreeable; handsome.
  • adj. Having such qualities as make success probable; well adapted to the place; promising
  • adj. Improbable; unlikely; -- used ironically.
  • adv. In all probability; probably.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Similar; congenial; kindred.
  • That may be suitable; preferred for a particular reason or purpose; fit or adapted, or giving promise of being so: as, a likely subject for satire.
  • Having likeness to truth; that seems or that may be true; credible; probable: as, a likely story.
  • Hence Within the limits of probability; having a tendency; so situated or constituted that he or it will probably be or do something indicated: followed by an infinitive.
  • Liable to happen or come about; in prospect or expectation.
  • Such as may be liked; likable; pleasing; agreeable; commendable; promising; good.
  • Synonyms Apt, Likely, etc. See apt.
  • Probably; as may reasonably be supposed.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. has a good chance of being the case or of coming about
  • adj. expected to become or be; in prospect
  • adv. with considerable certainty; without much doubt
  • adj. within the realm of credibility
  • adj. likely but not certain to be or become true or real

Etymologies

Middle English likly, from Old English gelīclīc (from gelīc, similar) and from Old Norse līkligr (from līkr, similar); see līk- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old Norse líkligr, from líkr ("like, similar"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • In BrE this has the peculiar grammatical property that as an adverb it can't occur on its own: it has to be premodified by another adverb. So we can say that it will very/quite/more likely happen tomorrow, but not that *it will likely happen tomorrow. The latter is of course normal in AmE. As an adjective there's no such restriction: it is likely to happen, and it is very/quite/more likely to happen.

    Whereas 'probably' behaves quite normally: it will probably happen.

    September 2, 2008