- The definition of likely is something that has a very high chance, that is probably true or that may be suitable.
- An example of something described as likely would be a likely chance for a mugging in a dark alley.
- An example of something that would be described as likely is the chance of rain when there are dark clouds in the sky and the weatherman predicted rain.
- apparently true to the facts; credible; probable: a likely cause
- seeming as if it would happen or might happen; reasonably to be expected; apparently destined: it is likely to rain
- such as will probably be satisfactory or rewarding; suitable: a likely choice for the job
- having good prospects; promising: a likely lad
- Dialectal attractive; agreeable
Origin of likelyMiddle English likly, probably aphetic ; from Old English geliclic (or ; from uncertain or unknown; perhaps Old Norse likligr): see like and amp; -ly
- Possessing or displaying the qualities or characteristics that make something probable: They are likely to become angry with him. See Usage Note at liable.
- Within the realm of credibility; plausible: not a very likely excuse.
- Apparently appropriate or suitable: There were several likely candidates for the job.
- Apt to achieve success or yield a desired outcome; promising: a likely topic for investigation.
- Attractive; pleasant: found a likely spot under a shady tree for the picnic.
Origin of likelyMiddle English likly, from Old English gelīclīc (from gelīc, similar) and from Old Norse līkligr (from līkr, similar); see līk- in Indo-European roots.
(comparative likelier or more likely, superlative likeliest or most likely)
- probable; having a greater-than-even chance of occurring
- Rain is likely later this afternoon.
- They are likely to become angry with him.
- appropriate, suitable; believable; having a good potential
- Jones is a likely candidate for management.
- plausible; Within the realm of credibility
- not a very likely excuse.
- promising; Apt to achieve success or yield a desired outcome
- a likely topic for investigation.
- attractive; pleasant
- found a likely spot under a shady tree for the picnic.
- (as predicate, followed by to and infinitive) Reasonably to be expected; apparently destined.
- He is likely to succeed at anything he tries.
(comparative more likely, superlative most likely)
- Likely he'll win the election in this economy.
- As an adverb, likely is often preceded by a modifier such as most or quite.
- Some usage guides consider adverbial likely - instead of probably - to be poor style. One can also opt for the somewhat rarer adverbial form likelily.
- Something or somebody considered likely.
From Old Norse líkligr, from líkr (“like, similar”).