[ lahyk-lee ]
See synonyms for: likelylikelier on

adjective,like·li·er, like·li·est.
  1. probably or apparently destined (usually followed by an infinitive): something not likely to happen.

  2. seeming like truth, fact, or certainty; reasonably to be believed or expected; believable: a likely story.

  1. seeming to fulfill requirements or expectations; apparently suitable: a likely place for a restaurant.

  2. showing promise of achievement or excellence; promising: a fine, likely young man.

  1. probably: We will likely stay home this evening.

Origin of likely

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English likli, from Old Norse līkligr; see like1, -ly

usage note For likely

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.

Other words for likely

Words Nearby likely Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use likely in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for likely


/ (ˈlaɪklɪ) /

  1. (usually foll by an infinitive) tending or inclined; apt: likely to rain

  2. probable: a likely result

  1. believable or feasible; plausible

  2. appropriate for a purpose or activity

  3. having good possibilities of success: a likely candidate

  4. dialect, mainly US attractive, agreeable, or enjoyable: her likely ways won her many friends

  1. probably or presumably

  2. as likely as not very probably

Origin of likely

C14: from Old Norse līkligr

usage For likely

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