- 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: Middle English likly, probably aphetic from Old English geliclic (or from uncertain or unknown; perhaps Old Norse likligr): see like and amp; -ly
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
adjective like·li·er, like·li·est
- Possessing or displaying the qualities or characteristics that make something probable: They are likely to become angry with him.
- 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: Middle English likly, from Old English gelīclīc (from gelīc, similar) and from Old Norse līkligr (from līkr, similar); see līk- in Indo-European roots.Usage Note: Used as an adverb likely is most commonly preceded by a modifier such as very or quite: He will quite likely require some help with his classes. But the unmodified use of likely is common enough in educated writing, and though it might be better avoided in highly formal style, it should not be regarded as incorrect: They'll likely buy a new car this year. See Usage Note at liable.