[prob-uh-buh l]


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 formsnon·prob·a·ble, adjectivenon·prob·a·bly, adverbqua·si-prob·a·ble, adjectivequa·si-prob·a·bly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for probable

Contemporary Examples of probable

Historical Examples of probable

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • She remembered the bitterness of her month's exile, and its probable cause.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

British Dictionary definitions for probable



likely to be or to happen but not necessarily so
most likelythe probable cause of the accident


a person who is probably to be chosen for a team, event, etc

Word Origin for probable

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

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