probable


probable
probable, possible, likely are comparable when they mean not now certain but such as may be, or may become, true, real, or actual.
Something probable has so much evidence in its support or seems so reasonable that it commends itself to the mind as worthy of belief, though not to be accepted as a certainty; thus, the most probable conclusion from evidence at hand is the one which the weight of evidence supports even though it does not provide proof; the probable thief is the one at whom so much of the evidence points as to give grounds for a presumption that he is guilty; the "probable life" of a person, in the language of actuaries, is the period during which one half the persons of a given age at a given time will remain alive according to mortality tables
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the probable cause of a fire

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the probable expenses of a trip

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far from being a madman's dream . . . Burr's chance of success was uncomfortably probableHervey Allen

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it is not probable that any enemy would . . . attack us by landing troops in the United States— Roosevelt

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Something possible is within the powers of performance, attainment, or conception of an agent or agency, especially a human agent
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it is possible to cross the Atlantic in an airplane

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knowledge possible only to God

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or which is within the widest limits of a person's ability or a thing's.capacity as determined by nature, necessity, or circumstances
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it is not possible to carry more than a thousand gallons of gasoline in this airplane

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Communication with the stars may never be possible)
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the number of possible amusements is small until the child has learned to grasp objects that it sees— Russell

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or which, though not probable, may happen by chance or is dependent on a contingency
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his election is possible, but not probable

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it is possible that she will come this way

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I think that "so near as to obstruct" means so near as actually to obstruct—and not merely near enough to threaten a possible obstruction— Justice Holmes

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Something likely (see also APT 2) is to all appearances as alleged, suggested, or required; in contrast with probable, likely does not as often or as definitely suggest grounds sufficient to warrant a presumption of truth, but in contrast with possible, it usually implies many more chances in favor of its being true or coming about; thus, the probable murderer is the suspect whose guilt is nearly but not completely established by the evidence; a possible murderer is merely one against whom suspicion is directed for some reason, or one known to have had opportunity; the likely murderer is the one among the possible murderers who, especially from a more or less superficial point of view, has had the strongest motive and the best opportunity, or toward whom the circumstantial evidence most distinctly points as the murderer
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no likely heir to the bachelor millionaire's estate has been mentioned

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the likely outcome of the war changes from month to month

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if there is failure in one quarter, no matter which, it is a likely sign of failure in the other— Blackmur

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Likely is also often used in the sense of promising because of appearances or ability to win favor
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a likely young man

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a likely candidate

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and sometimes in that of suitable because of apparent fitness or adaptation to some end
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watching for a likely place to picnic

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chose the eastern part of the island as the more likely district for discovery of prehistoric remains— Clodd

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Analogous words: credible, believable, colorable, *plausible: reasonable, *rational
Antonyms: certain: improbable

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • probable — [ prɔbabl ] adj. • 1380; proubable « qu on peut prouver » 1285; lat. probabilis, de probare I ♦ 1 ♦ Vx Relig. Opinion probable : opinion fondée sur des raisons sérieuses quoique non décisives. ⇒ probabilisme (1o). 2 ♦ Mod. Qui, sans être… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Probable — Prob a*ble, a. [L. probabilis, fr. probare to try, approve, prove: cf. F. probable. See {Prove}, and cf. {Provable}.] [1913 Webster] 1. Capable of being proved. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] 2. Having more evidence for than against; supported by evidence …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • probable — Probable. adj. de tout genre. Qui a apparence de verité, qui paroist fondé en raison. Il n est pas probable que vous luy eussiez fait une promesse, s il vous eust dû de l argent. je ne voy rien de si probable que cela. cette opinion là est… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • probable — I adjective apparent, apt, believable, conceivable, conjecturable, credible, feasible, foreseeable, full of promise, indubitable, liable, likely, logical, ostensible, plausible, possible, practicable, presumable, presumptive, promising,… …   Law dictionary

  • probable — (adj.) late 14c., from O.Fr. probable (14c.), from L. probabilis provable, from probare to try, to test (see PROVE (Cf. prove)). Probable cause as a legal term is attested from 1670s …   Etymology dictionary

  • probable — [präb′ə bəl] adj. [ME < MFr < L probabilis < probare, to prove: see PROBE] 1. likely to occur or be; that can reasonably but not certainly be expected [the probable winner] 2. reasonably so, as on the basis of evidence, but not proved… …   English World dictionary

  • probable — [adj] likely to happen apparent, believable, credible, earthly, feasible, illusory, in the cards*, mortal, most likely, odds on*, ostensible, plausible, possible, presumable, presumed, rational, reasonable, seeming; concept 552 Ant. improbable,… …   New thesaurus

  • probable — (Del lat. probabĭlis). 1. adj. Verosímil, o que se funda en razón prudente. 2. Que se puede probar. 3. Dicho de una cosa: Que hay buenas razones para creer que se verificará o sucederá …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • probable — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ likely to happen or be the case. ► NOUN ▪ a person likely to become or do something. ORIGIN Latin probabilis, from probare to test, demonstrate …   English terms dictionary

  • probable — (pro ba bl ) adj. 1°   Qui a une apparence de vérité. Il n est pas probable qu il ait dit cela. •   Toute question n est pas susceptible de démonstration ; mais il faut examiner ce qui est le plus probable, non pas pour le croire fermement, mais… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré


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