High Odds or Low Odds?

Be careful when using "high" and "low" to describe odds.

Mignon Fogarty

High Odds or Low Odds?


"Low odds" means something is likely, and "high odds" means something is unlikely, but many people get the two confused.

High odds would be something like 42-to-1. You'd be happy if these were the odds on your horse that wins at the track because you'd win a lot of money, but these aren't the odds you'd want if you need something to happen. It's a long shot.

  • The odds are high that Squiggly will participate in the X Games.

  • The odds are high that there will be an earthquake in Phoenix in the next hour. 

Low odds would be something like 2-to-1. These odds mean something is somewhat likely to happen.

  • The odds are low that Squiggly will ask for a chocolate dessert.

  • The odds are low that there will be an earthquake in California in the next decade.

I think I'll just say the odds are good or the odds are bad from now on. It's the safest bet since so many people don't understand odds.

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About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show.

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