9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[uhn-lahyk-lee] /ʌnˈlaɪk li/
adjective, unlikelier, unlikeliest.
not likely to be or occur; improbable; marked by doubt.
holding little prospect of success; unpromising; likely to fail:
He is an unlikely candidate for reelection.
not ingratiating; objectionable.
in an unlikely way.
Origin of unlikely
1325-75; Middle English unlikli. See un-1, likely
Related forms
unlikeliness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for unlikely
  • Nor is it unlikely that the confluence of many attributes may have conferred it on him.
  • But underwater, it's home to a surprising animal that has managed to survive in this inhospitable and unlikely habitat.
  • Researchers have known for years that people who easily become tipsy are unlikely to become alcoholics.
  • Even at this early stage it struck me as unlikely that a civilization could have declined continuously for a thousand years.
  • She's an unlikely figure to play this part in art history.
  • There are also rumours that blondes will go extinct, all of which are highly unlikely.
  • Any zoo animal that suddenly found itself in the wild would be unlikely to survive.
  • Their unlikely weapons in this initial phase of the campaign: tobacco, honeybees, and domestic animals.
  • The unlikely guests spend the night on the terrace level in a service corridor.
  • Some photographic moments are memorable because they are so unlikely.
British Dictionary definitions for unlikely


not likely; improbable
Derived Forms
unlikeliness, unlikelihood, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for unlikely

late 14c., "not likely to occur," from un- (1) + likely. Cf. Old Norse ulikligr, Middle Danish uligelig. Meaning "not likely to be true" is recorded from 1590s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with unlikely


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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