I am having difficulties understanding the (definition of "likely"given by "ODE"):

LIKELY(Adj.)-such as well might happen or be true

How to understand this definition?

  • 2
    If something well might or might well happen, it is quite probable (or likely!) that it will happen. Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 7:27
  • @KateBunting why it used "such as"??
    – Sam
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 8:19
  • 3
    Such as is dictionary-speak for 'the kind of thing that...' Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 9:00
  • 4
    Where is this definition from? I assumed ODE was a typo for OED, but the definition given doesn't match that. Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 9:47
  • It;s the oxford languages definition, as used by google.
    – James K
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 23:07

2 Answers 2


About "such as":

The word "likely" is an adjective, so a dictionary's definition must also be an adjective. If it said only, "well might happen or be true", that definition is a verb, not an adjective. The phrase "such as" changes the verb phrase into an adjectival phrase. Consider:

  1. An event well might happen or be true.
  2. an event such as well might happen or be true

The first is a complete sentence, so "well might happen or be true" is a predicate, not an adjective. The second isn't a sentence, just a noun phrase where the noun "event" is modified by the adjectival phrase "such as well might happen or be true".

So in short, "such as" in a dictionary doesn't have any content, so you can skip it when reading.


'Likely' describes the measurement of possibility that something could happen. It could be said to be somewhere between 'certain' and 'possible'.

  • If something is certain to happen, you believe it definitely will.

  • If something is possible, you believe it could happen, but may not. Something is 'possible' if it is able to happen, even when nothing is in place to make it so.

  • If something is likely you believe there is a strong chance it will happen. You could say that the odds (or measurement of chance) of it happening are favourable.

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