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An exclamation of distrust or disbelief in someone's explanation or story. Albert: "Sorry I'm late. My car broke down half way here!" Sarah: "Yeah, likely story! I bet you just wanted to finish watching the football game on TV."
(that's a) likely story
A phrase used to express disbelief of an excuse or explanation. He said he had to stay late at the office again. That's a likely story—he's probably out with his friends! The cat ate your science project? Likely story.
as likely as not
Probably; most likely. During lunch, you'll find Mrs. Smith preparing lessons in her office, as likely as not.
*likely as not
Fig. probably; with an even chance either way. (*Also: as ~.) He will as likely as not arrive without warning. Likely as not, the game will be canceled.
Inf. That is probably not so; that probably will not happen. Mary: Is it possible that you'll be able to fix this watch? Sue: Not likely, but we can always try. Sally: Will John show up on time, do you think? Bob: Not likely.
in the unlikely event
If something improbable should occur. For example, In the unlikely event that I'm held up, please cover for me, or In the unlikely event that we should have snow in May, we're still well equipped to cope with it . Also see under in case, def. 2.
like as not
Also, as like as not; as likely as not. In all probability, with an even chance, as in Like as not it'll rain by afternoon, or Likely as not the governor will run for a second term. In the first two terms, like is short for likely in the sense of "probably," that is, "It is as likely as it is not likely." [Late 1800s]
People say not likely as an emphatic way of saying no, especially when they are asked to do something. Clear up his mess for him? Not likely!
a likely storyused to express disbelief of an account or excuse.
not likely!certainly not; I refuse. informal
See also: not
(as) like as ˈnot,
most/very ˈlike(informal) quite/very probably: As like as not, he’ll be late. He usually is.
as ˌlikely as ˈnot,
most/very ˈlikelyvery probably: As likely as not she’s forgotten all about it.
a ˈlikely story(spoken, ironic) used for showing that you do not believe what somebody has said: They said they’d found the wallet on the ground outside the pub — a likely story!
not (bloodytaboo, etc.) ˈlikely!(spoken, especially British English) used to disagree strongly with a statement or a suggestion: Sign a blank cheque for you? Not bloody likely!
See also: not