Is "liable" meaning "likely" incorrect?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by cheshire, Jul 1, 2007.

  1. cheshire

    cheshire Senior Member

    Catholic (Cat-holic, not Catholic)
  2. expenseroso Senior Member

    North Carolina
    United States, English
    After checking the link, I assume you mean that you never knew using "liable" for "likely" was incorrect.

    "Likely" is not at all the original meaning of "liable", but the misuse has become so popular it is now, more or less, an accepted meaning--you'll probably find "likely" as a definition for "liable" in most english dictionaries.
  3. Harry Batt

    Harry Batt Senior Member

    USA English
    expense has explained the history of liable finding a place in English as a synonym for likely. The reason is likely because liable is a stronger word expression. To use likely as a stronger word that has certainty the English speaker says, "more than likely." "If I go to the reunion, I am more than likely going to drive." As an equal meaning using liable the speaker says, "If I go to the reunion, I am liable to drive." Liable has kind of an authority sound, doesn't it?
  4. river Senior Member

    U.S. English
    Liable does mean likely - "likely to experience something adverse." If you don't use it, you're liable to lose it. What you don't know is liable to hurt you.
  5. BoTrojan Senior Member

    New Wilmington, PA
    USA, English
    I think it's been established that "liable to" as "likely to" is an OK idiomatic usage, but I'd stay away from it. To me, it's a usage that you just don't hear much any more. If you want to sound like a character from a 1940s Hollywood movie, go ahead and say something like "If I don't where a helmet, I'm liable to get a head injury." If not, stick with "likely."
  6. cheshire

    cheshire Senior Member

    Catholic (Cat-holic, not Catholic)
    I now seem to know "liable" better now. Thanks guys, your kindness has earned some place deep in my heart.

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