The word “possibility” can be interpreted in different ways. When you hear the word, what is the first meaning that comes to mind?
For some, possibility corresponds with hope. For others, possibility might mean “a chance that something might happen.”
The connotation of possibility largely depends on an individual’s interpretation.
According to Merriam-Webster, one definition of possibility is “the quality or state of being possible.” If something is possible, it can be done or achieved.
For example, it is possible to get an “A” on your upcoming math test if you study hard enough and understand the material. Other synonyms for this definition of possibility include capability and potential.
Another definition of possibility, also from Merriam-Webster, is “something that may happen: a chance that something will happen: likelihood.”
In this case, possibility is used as a synonym for probability.
For example, there is a strong possibility that it will rain tomorrow based on the current forecast. Because rain is more likely than a sunny day, in this context, “possibility” and “probability” can be used interchangeably. Possible synonyms for this definition include chance and hazard.
The third definition of possibility comes from the Free Dictionary by Farlex. This definition states that possibility is “the fact or condition of being possible; capacity for existing or coming into being; potentiality; rarity or unusualness; improbability; as the feasibility or practicability and the possibilities of successful flight grew more doubtful as heavier-than-air machines became larger and more complex” (Farlex).
In other words, this definition suggests that something that is rare has a lower possibility of happening than something that is common. An example of this would be winning the lottery versus getting a promotion at work, one event is more rare than the other and thus has a lower probability/possibility of occurring.
As you can see from the three definitions provided above, the word “possibility” can have different meanings depending on the context in which it is used.