Meaning of “surely” in the English Dictionary

british dictionary

"surely" in British English

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uk /ˈʃɔː.li/ us /ˈʃʊ

B2 used to express that you are certain or almost certain about something:

The problem surely lies in the design of the equipment.
US formal "May I sit here?" "Surely." (= Yes, certainly.)
Without more food and medical supplies, these people will surely not survive.

B2 used to express surprise that something has happened or is going to happen:

Surely you don't expect me to believe that?
Surely you're not going out on a night like this?

More examples

  • This latest injury must surely mean that her tennis career is now at an end .
  • He's running so well, surely he'll take the gold.
  • Greater international stability can surely only be to the good.
  • The actors are very good, but when all is considered the laurels must surely go to the director of the play.
  • Overeating is surely the main cause of obesity.

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

"surely" in American English

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surelyadverb [ not gradable ]

us /ˈʃʊər·li/ /ˈʃoʊr·li/

certainly; without any doubt:

She is slowly but surely getting her strength back.

Surely can be used to express surprise, doubt, or disagreement:

Surely you’re joking!
Surely they could have done better than that (= I believe they could have done better).

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