Meaning of “likely” in the English Dictionary

"likely" in British English

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uk /ˈlaɪ.kli/ us /ˈlaɪ.kli/

B1 If something is likely, it will probably happen or is expected:

Do remind me because I'm likely to forget.
What's the likely outcome of this whole business?
I suppose that might happen but it's not very likely.
[ + that ] It's quite likely that we'll be in Spain this time next year.

More examples

  • Children from an underprivileged family background are statistically more likely to become involved in crime.
  • She made a rough estimate of the likely cost.
  • Disney's latest production looks likely to be their most successful ever.
  • It is likely that the suspects have left the country by now.
  • The study showed that one in twelve women is likely to develop breast cancer.


uk /ˈlaɪ.kli/ us /ˈlaɪ.kli/

mainly US probably:

She will likely need surgery.
as likely as not

C1 probably:

As likely as not, she'll end up in court over this problem.
most/very likely

C1 very probably:

Most likely he'll turn up late..
not likely!

B1 informal certainly not!:

"Do you want to come running with me?" "Not likely!"

(Definition of “likely” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"likely" in American English

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us /ˈlɑɪk·li/

expected to happen; probable:

[ + to infinitive ] If I don’t write it down, I’m likely to forget.


us /ˈlɑɪ·kli/


I’ll most likely get there at about ten o’clock.

(Definition of “likely” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)