Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Not likely; improbable.
  • adjective Not promising; likely to fail.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In an unlikely manner; with no or little likelihood; improbably.
  • Such as cannot be reasonably expected; improbable: as, an unlikely event.
  • Not holding out a prospect of success or of a desired result; likely to fail; unpromising.
  • Not calculated to inspire liking or affection; not likable or lovable.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Not likely; improbable; not to be reasonably expected
  • adjective Not holding out a prospect of success; likely to fail; unpromising.
  • adjective obsolete Not such as to inspire liking; unattractive; disagreeable.
  • adverb In an unlikely manner.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Not likely; improbable; not to be reasonably expected; as, an unlikely event; the thing you mention is very unlikely. Not holding out a prospect of success; likely to fail; unpromising; as, unlikely means.
  • adverb In an improbable manner.
  • noun Something or somebody considered unlikely.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective not likely to be true or to occur or to have occurred
  • adjective having a probability too low to inspire belief
  • adjective has little chance of being the case or coming about

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

un- +‎ likely

Examples

  • And still: in 2011, the term "unlikely" doesn't quite carry the weight it used to.

    Forbes.com: News

  • One thing I hate to hear, and I hate to hear it even more when it comes from strippers themselves, is the term unlikely stripper.

    Figleaf's Real Adult Sex

  • Furthermore, "the Enlightenment" was a term unlikely to be applied to a wanted criminal.

    Jed the Dead

  • With every game, every precision pass and every clever drive to the basket, Lin is raising expectations, altering the Knicks' fate and redefining the word "unlikely."

    NYT > Home Page

  • Our only quibble is her choice of the word "unlikely."

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • With every game, every precision pass and every clever drive to the basket, Lin is raising expectations, altering the Knicks' fate and redefining the word "unlikely."

    NYT > Global Home

  • With every game, every precision pass and every clever drive to the basket, Lin is raising expectations, altering the Knicks' fate and redefining the word "unlikely."

    NYT > Home Page

  • The lack of ideologically charged cases also makes this term unlikely to provide much evidence of the alleged conservative ascendency.

    National Review Online

  • So remember when you're feeling very small and insecure, how amazingly unlikely is your birth.

    NASA's Search For Life Still A New Hope

  • So remember when you're feeling very small and insecure, how amazingly unlikely is your birth.

    NASA's Search For Life Still A New Hope

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