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From Middle English likely, likly, lykly, likliche, from Old English ġelīclīċ (“likely”) and Old Norse líkligr (“likely”), both from Proto-Germanic *līkalīkaz, equivalent to like + -ly.
likely (comparative likelier or more likely, superlative likeliest or most likely)
- probable; having a greater-than-even chance of occurring
- Rain is likely later this afternoon.
- (as predicate, followed by to and infinitive) Reasonably to be expected; apparently destined, probable
- They are likely to become angry with him.
- He is likely to succeed at anything he tries.
- appropriate, suitable; believable; having a good potential
- Jones is a likely candidate for management.
- plausible; within the realm of credibility
- not a very likely excuse.
- promising; apt to achieve success or yield a desired outcome
- a likely topic for investigation.
- attractive; pleasant
- I found a likely spot under a shady tree for the picnic.
- (obsolete) Similar; like; alike.
likely (plural likelies)
- Something or somebody considered likely.
likely (comparative more likely, superlative most likely) (US)
- (obsolete) Similarly.
- Likely he’ll win the election in this economy.
- The adverb is more common in US English than in British English.
- As an adverb, likely is often preceded by a modifier such as most or quite.