Yours, Etc.: Origins and Uses of 8 Sign-Offs
mid-15c., "quality of being probable," from Old French probabilite (14c.) and directly from Latin probabilitatem (nominative probabilitas) "credibility, probability," from probabilis (see probable). Meaning "something likely to be true" is from 1570s; mathematical sense is from 1718.
A number expressing the likelihood of the occurrence of a given event, especially a fraction expressing how many times the event will happen in a given number of tests or experiments. For example, when rolling a six-sided die, the probability of rolling a particular side is 1 in 6, or 1/6 .
A number between zero and one that shows how likely a certain event is. Usually, probability is expressed as a ratio: the number of experimental results that would produce the event divided by the number of experimental results considered possible. Thus, the probability of drawing the ten of clubs from an ordinary deck of cards is one in fifty-two (1:52), or one fifty-second.
the branches of mathematics concerned with the laws governing random events, including the collection, analysis, interpretation, and display of numerical data. Probability has its origin in the study of gambling and insurance in the 17th century, and it is now an indispensable tool of both social and natural sciences. Statistics may be said to have its origin in census counts taken thousands of years ago; as a distinct scientific discipline, however, it was developed in the early 19th century as the study of populations, economies, and moral actions and later in that century as the mathematical tool for analyzing such numbers. For technical information on these subjects, see probability theory and statistics.