I often get confused with the mentioned words as I am not a native English speaker and I don't know what they actually mean.

From wordkinck,

Possibility: The quality or condition of being probable

Probability: The fact or state of being possible.

Which seems a paradox to me as the word is present on its own definition.

From Cambridge Dictionary

Probability: The level of possibility of something happening or being true.

Possibility: A chance that something may happen or be true.

So my questions are,

  • What they mean literally?
  • When and where to use them or not?
  • I think that Word Knock definition was a mistake, and that it has been corrected since you posted your question.
    – nnnnnn
    Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 7:23

1 Answer 1


I’d use probability as a quantifiable, mathematical term. If I spoke about probability, I might be talking about numerical odds or chances: e.g. one chance in six or even Bayesian probability. I don’t use possibility in that way, it is more qualitative.

One way to understand the more slight differences in common meaning is to consider the related words impossible and improbable. Sherlock Holmes said:

"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"

From that, we can deduce:

Impossible - cannot be done

Improbable - unlikely to be done

Possible - can be done (but may be unlikely)

Probable - likely to be done (and likelihood can be measured mathematically)

  • Wow, excellent analogy. Thanks.
    – arif
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 3:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.