adjective, like·li·er, like·li·est.

probably or apparently destined (usually followed by an infinitive): something not likely to happen.
seeming like truth, fact, or certainty; reasonably to be believed or expected; believable: a likely story.
seeming to fulfill requirements or expectations; apparently suitable: a likely place for a restaurant.
showing promise of achievement or excellence; promising: a fine, likely young man.


probably: We will likely stay home this evening.

Origin of likely

1250–1300; Middle English likli < Old Norse līkligr. See like1, -ly
Can be confusedapt likely (see synonym study at apt) (see usage note at the current entry)

Synonyms for likely

Usage note

Likely in the senses “probably destined” and “probably” is often preceded by a qualifying word like very, more, or quite: The board is very likely to turn down the request. The new system will quite likely increase profits. However, despite statements to the contrary in some usage guides, likely in these senses is standard without such a qualifier in all varieties of English: It will likely be a bitter debate. The shipment will likely arrive on Thursday. See also apt, liable. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for likelier

Historical Examples of likelier

British Dictionary definitions for likelier



(usually foll by an infinitive) tending or inclined; aptlikely to rain
probablea likely result
believable or feasible; plausible
appropriate for a purpose or activity
having good possibilities of successa likely candidate
dialect, mainly US attractive, agreeable, or enjoyableher likely ways won her many friends


probably or presumably
as likely as not very probably

Word Origin for likely

C14: from Old Norse līkligr


Likely as an adverb is preceded by another, intensifying adverb, as in it will very likely rain or it will most likely rain. Its use without an intensifier, as in it will likely rain is regarded as unacceptable by most users of British English, though it is common in colloquial US English
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

Word Origin and History for likelier



c.1300, perhaps from Old Norse likligr "likely," from likr "like" (see like (adj.)). Old English had cognate geliclic. Meaning "having the appearance of being strong and capable" is from mid-15c., though now mostly confined to American English; according to OED this sense is perhaps influenced by like (v.). Sense of "good-looking" is from late 15c. Meaning "probably" is attested from late 14c., now principally in American English.

LIKELY. That may be liked; that may please; handsome. In the United States, as a colloquial term, respectable; worthy of esteem; sensible.--Worcester. [Bartlett]

As an adverb, late 14c., from the adjective.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper