# Difference Between Likelihood and Probability

## Likelihood vs Probability

Difference between likelihood and probability may appear very hard to understand. That is because likelihood and probability are two words that are often confused as words that are denotative of the same meaning. Strictly speaking they are two different words that give two different meanings. The word likelihood refers to possibility. On the other hand, the word probability refers to ‘chance’. This is the main difference between the two words, namely, likelihood and probability. There are other differences too between likelihood and probability that should be understood clearly. Therefore, this article will also explain what probability and likelihood mean in mathematics as well.

## What does Probability mean?

Probability refers to chance. It speaks about something that is likely to happen. Moreover, the word probability indicates the meaning of ‘being probable’ or ‘chancy’ as in the expression ‘in all probability’. The word probability indicates the sense of ‘the state or condition of being probable’. It indicates the chance of something happening.

Probability is a statistical application that involves permutation and combination. Probability in mathematics is a very important topic. In mathematics, probability means how likely something is going to happen. This is calculated using the total number of chances and the number of chances the desired outcome can occur. For example, think of a coin. It has two sides, Heads and Tails. When the coin is tossed, there are two outcomes. It can land Head or Tails. So, the total number of outcomes is two. Landing either Head or Tails is ½. This is the probability of landing either Heads or Tails. It is important to know that the word probability has the adverbial form in the word ‘probably’ and the adjectival form in the word ‘probable.’  At the same time, the word probability is also often followed by the preposition ‘of.’  Look at the following example.

The probability of him finding help in that forest was low.

Here, the word probability is used in the sense of chance. So, the sentence means the chance of him finding help in that forest was low.

## What does Likelihood mean?

Likelihood refers to possibility. It shows how much possibility there is for something to happen. The word likelihood indicates the meaning of ‘being likely’ as in the expression ‘in all likelihood’. It is interesting to note that the word likelihood is often followed by the preposition ‘of’. Look at the following example.

The new graduates do not see any likelihood of finding any job with the current state of the economy.

In this sentence, the word likelihood means possibility. So, it says that the new graduates do not see any possibility of finding any job with the current state of the economy.

When it comes to mathematics, likelihood speaks of a function that is considered to be weaker than the probability. For example, let us consider a spinner that is divided to 8 equal parts. Four of them are numbered as number 3. Two are numbered as number 1, one as number 4 and one as number 5. The probability of the spinner landing on number 3 is higher. The likelihood of it landing on number 4 or 5 is very low. The word likelihood has the adverbial form in the word ‘likely’ and the adjectival form in the word ‘like’. It should be noted that the word ‘like’ when used as adjective is used in hyphenated words such as ‘like-minded’.

## What is the difference between Likelihood and Probability?

• The word likelihood refers to possibility. On the other hand, the word probability refers to ‘chance’. This is the main difference between the two words, namely, likelihood and probability.