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[prob-uh-buh l] /ˈprɒb ə bəl/
likely to occur or prove true:
He foresaw a probable business loss. He is the probable writer of the article.
having more evidence for than against, or evidence that inclines the mind to belief but leaves some room for doubt.
affording ground for belief.
Origin of probable
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin probābilis likely, literally, capable of standing a test, equivalent to probā(re) to test (see probe) + -bilis -ble
Related forms
nonprobable, adjective
nonprobably, adverb
quasi-probable, adjective
quasi-probably, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for probable
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • To Billy Brue was allotted the easiest as being the most probable route.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • Was it probable that she had anything suitable to wear to a lecture?

    Ester Ried Yet Speaking Isabella Alden
  • The St. is an apt illustration of the probable workings of Plautus' mind.

    The Dramatic Values in Plautus Wilton Wallace Blancke
  • He was a little ahead of them; but it was not probable that the driver would stop for him.

    Ester Ried Yet Speaking Isabella Alden
  • She remembered the bitterness of her month's exile, and its probable cause.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
British Dictionary definitions for probable


likely to be or to happen but not necessarily so
most likely: the probable cause of the accident
a person who is probably to be chosen for a team, event, etc
Word Origin
C14: via Old French from Latin probābilis that may be proved, from probāre to prove
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for probable

late 14c., from Old French probable "provable, demonstrable" (14c.), from Latin probabilis "worthy of approval, pleasing, agreeable, acceptable; provable, that may be assumed to be believed, credible," from probare "to try, to test" (see prove). Probable cause as a legal term is attested from 1670s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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