Definition of possibility in US English:


nounPlural possibilities

  • 1A thing that may happen or be the case.

    with clause ‘there was always the possibility that he might be turned down’
    ‘the theoretical possibility of a chain reaction’
    • ‘One might object that his account draws on the possibility of a merely possible world.’
    • ‘You know how we've always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the bomb.’
    • ‘There may be risks in some forms of exchange, but the possibility of exchange is always present.’
    • ‘Originally a garden, by then the site was home to a large shed that had the possibility of being converted into a house.’
    • ‘The question remains whether the possibility of any such system is dependent on the existence of language.’
    • ‘There was always the possibility of a change in personal or family fortune.’
    • ‘There is always a possibility of unfairness and if a mistake is made nothing can be done about it.’
    • ‘The two men discussed the possibility of staging a 1980s music show in Wiltshire.’
    • ‘She had found a scratch-card which promised her the possibility of wealth beyond her tiny dreams.’
    • ‘I mean as well as the possibility of failure, there's also the chance of success that is just as heart racing.’
    • ‘Who can turn down the possibility of winning £1000 for what they do everyday anyway?’
    • ‘Then we talked about the possibility of Amy writing a book for us - many years before she actually did.’
    • ‘It transcends reality and opens up, for a moment, the possibility of a better life.’
    • ‘Feeling remorse, there is always the possibility of applying the remedy to purify any wrong we have done.’
    • ‘Maybe they were celebrating the possibility of their recognition as equal.’
    • ‘It was a hope I was holding onto, because the possibility of success was so attractive.’
    • ‘It was there he discovered the possibility of using steel as a sculptural medium.’
    • ‘Now I'm thinking about the possibility of spending a year volunteering abroad.’
    • ‘Of course, students always have the possibility of getting a student bank account.’
    • ‘Accepting what you have and enjoying it, but always being open to the possibility of something better.’
    chance, likelihood, probability, prospect, hope
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The state or fact of being likely or possible; likelihood.
      ‘there was no possibility of recompense for him’
      • ‘But there was no possibility of that because racial subjugation was enforced by law.’
      • ‘In soccer and boxing there is also the possibility of brain damage due to repeated blows to the head.’
      • ‘Be alert to the possibility of rare but potentially serious underlying causes.’
      • ‘When women and men live in a society, the possibility of violations always exists.’
      • ‘Because every time we did there was always the possibility of a major collision.’
      • ‘The Fenians always faced the possibility of being infiltrated by British spies.’
      • ‘In such a case there is no possibility of double jeopardy and no risk of double recovery.’
      • ‘This work is making the possibility of xenotransplants much closer than ever before.’
      • ‘At the moment the possibility of feedback is low, though the potential already exists.’
      • ‘The radiation emitted is, as you say, miniscule - so small that there is no possibility of harm.’
      • ‘At this stage his future is very much up in the air as is the possibility of him remaining a United player.’
      • ‘Because of his actions, he knows there can be no possibility of reconciliation.’
      • ‘There was always the possibility of getting shot if the clientele disapproved of the set list.’
      • ‘It also had unconquered tribes with whom there was always the possibility of war.’
      • ‘All serving members have considered the possibility of having someone shoot at them.’
      • ‘Within minutes, the plane bombed the front and rear of the convoy, sealing off the possibility of escape.’
      • ‘There was no possibility of that site not contaminating the two streams and the harbour.’
      • ‘I want to look in to the possibility of a rooftop garden on the roof of our apartment parking garage.’
      • ‘Try to find a quiet place that has no possibility of disturbance or interruption.’
      • ‘I'm investigating the possibility of consolidating my debts into my mortgage.’
      feasibility, practicability, chances, odds, attainability, achievability, potentiality, conceivability, probability
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A thing that may be chosen or done out of several possible alternatives.
      ‘one possibility is to allow all firms to participate’
      ‘there are three possibilities for obtaining extra money’
      • ‘Several spaghetti-based dishes are available, as well as a choice of pork possibilities.’
      • ‘Choices and possibilities forked off in all directions, leading off into futures unknown.’
      • ‘Here is the opportunity to study, with an open mind, alternative possibilities.’
      • ‘Building a heavy rail link would prove much more costly, but would allow greater possibilities.’
      • ‘Another possibility would see extra cash given to bring down landing charges.’
      • ‘The obvious choice among these three possibilities is the first.’
      • ‘Which alternative possibilities in the Third Reich were never even entertained as such by the leadership?’
      • ‘Out of all you could have become, out of all the possibilities your freedom allowed you, you chose this.’
      • ‘It was curated to allow a range of possibilities to be seen together.’
      • ‘And this sort of self-expression does not require alternative possibilities.’
      • ‘He was not defensive, and prepared to admit alternative possibilities as possibilities.’
      • ‘All three possibilities might allow for high fitness of hybrids in a new environment.’
      • ‘Can you talk about how and why it was humanism that triumphed over alternative possibilities?’
      • ‘An alternative to this possibility is for a midwife to be present at a hospital birth.’
      • ‘This theoretically allowed eight possibilities of their combination in address.’
      • ‘Rather, they are contested systems that allow competing possibilities to be realised.’
      • ‘This was true even though an education by Catholic monks offered alternative possibilities.’
      • ‘Which of all the uneliminated alternative possibilities may not properly be ignored?’
      • ‘It is because of this that we are able to see the hint of the possibilities of some real solutions.’
      option, alternative, choice, course of action, solution, recourse
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3possibilities Unspecified qualities of a promising nature; potential.
      ‘the house was old but it had possibilities’
      • ‘There, he realised his own potential and possibilities in working with wood and granite.’
      • ‘One of the most promising possibilities is the developing of flour-based food products.’
      • ‘The potentialities and possibilities of the electronic medium have been put to use to achieve this end.’
      • ‘Obviously, our hopes have been bigger than the qualities and possibilities of these people.’
      • ‘I seem to remember this sort of thing being one of the promised possibilities of stem cell research.’
      potential, potentiality, promise, prospects
      View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Old French possibilite, from late Latin possibilitas, from possibilis ‘able to be done’ (see possible).