Definition of likely in English:



  • 1Such as well might happen or be true; probable.

    ‘the likely effects of the drought on sugar beet yields’
    [with clause] ‘it was likely that he would make a televised statement’
    [with infinitive] ‘sales are likely to drop further’
    • ‘It is likely that only some of our sample will agree to participate in the research.’
    • ‘It is likely that most of the conspirators had details of the plot drip-fed to them as the need arose.’
    • ‘In the event of a pandemic, it is likely that only infected people will be given the antivirals.’
    • ‘All being well, it is likely that we'll see Hedgehunter back to challenge next year.’
    • ‘It is likely that O'Hara will be the only member of that side selected for Walker Cup duty.’
    • ‘We are still finalising the design but it is likely that these specific premises will be affected.’
    • ‘Priest's conclusion was that it was likely that the metal was present in the food chain.’
    • ‘It is likely that the coverage achieved in other surveillance systems is similar or lower.’
    • ‘If there were fewer drug addicts, it is likely that there would be fewer criminal offences.’
    • ‘In that event it is likely that our own government will commit British troops in support.’
    • ‘It is likely that there are other chaperones that function in a similar manner.’
    • ‘If the London bid fails then it is likely that a decision on an alternative host city will be made by next spring.’
    • ‘It is likely that the various schemes would be paid for with a mix of public cash and private investment.’
    • ‘A pathologist said it was likely that the boy had the condition for several days.’
    • ‘An committee spokeswoman said it was likely that the York office would be closed by the end of the year.’
    • ‘It is likely that many Australian homes do not even have a Bible, and those that do, leave it unread.’
    • ‘It is likely that many staff are already helping disabled customers as a matter of course.’
    • ‘If the legs move at each strain it is likely that the cow will calve without too much trouble.’
    • ‘It is likely that any sanctions will be limited to travel bans and freezing of overseas accounts.’
    • ‘It is likely that the unit will be based in their new control trailer, which is due to be completed next month.’
    probable, distinctly possible, to be expected, odds-on, on, possible, credible, plausible, believable, within the bounds of possibility, imaginable
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  • 2Apparently suitable; promising.

    ‘a likely-looking spot’
    • ‘Would it just have been more likely to have happened for some reason in this area?’
    • ‘People are more likely to accept risks when they feel that they are in the driving seat.’
    • ‘It was my room, and the most likely reason he had stopped was that it was a bit of mess.’
    • ‘They may reason that they are more likely to die from malaria or be bitten by a snake well before then.’
    • ‘One likely reason is that at the end of the day Bill just loves a good old-fashioned scrap.’
    • ‘The most likely reason is that it falls across some heat gradient in the house structure itself.’
    • ‘Use a bait that you have confidence in, and is likely to be accepted from the off.’
    • ‘Lenhoff thinks defensive shares are likely to continue to do well for three reasons.’
    • ‘One reason for Essex's likely limitation on imported labour is the high cost of housing.’
    • ‘Fay's apparent sweet tooth is likely to be rooted in a problem with blood sugar balance.’
    • ‘He had visited each member state to find out what major project was likely to be accepted by all of them.’
    • ‘His opinion is not binding but is likely to be accepted by the court later this year.’
    • ‘I was just in a foul mood or something like that, most likely, so accept my humblest apologies.’
    • ‘The sources the government prefers are likely to be seriously biased for several reasons.’
    • ‘He accepted the Pythagorean position that a successful fit is not likely to be a coincidence.’
    • ‘There is reason to suppose the Court of Appeal would be likely to reach any contrary view.’
    • ‘Most of the rest is likely to be in bonds and gilts with cash and property making up the balance.’
    • ‘Had the report been accepted it is highly likely that the current crisis would have been avoided.’
    • ‘It is assumed that any blend of wines from the same property is likely to be harmonious.’
    • ‘I think a more likely reason is that many of his posts are failing the Boring Man in a Bar Test.’
    suitable, appropriate, apposite, fit, fitting, acceptable, proper, right
    likely to succeed, promising, talented, gifted
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  • Probably.

    ‘we will most likely go to a bar’
    • ‘I explained it was most likely the blonde hair making my skin colour look different in contrast.’
    • ‘We thought, if we could get just one wall, it was likely we'd be able to hold on to it.’
    • ‘On overseas pitches he has at times been the only Indian likely to get any wickets at all.’
    • ‘The case for affirmative action in Bermuda has likely been set back by years.’
    • ‘By the laws of probability, the culprit was most likely an obnoxious American tourist.’
    • ‘Now, it seems increasingly likely that you will soon topple sideways off the sofa arm and into the bin.’
    • ‘She thanked her supporters for running a "gentlemanly" campaign, but, she said, taking the high road on the campaign trail likely cost her votes.’
    • ‘Quite likely you'll end up with a broken arm, and at your age it will be a nasty break indeed.’
    • ‘More than likely they'll do this via the telecommunications grid through a phone socket.’
    • ‘Even if moving toward songwriting made it more likely I could cross over to the mainstream.’
    probably, in all probability, presumably, no doubt, doubtlessly
    like enough
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Middle English: from Old Norse líkligr, from líkr (see like).