# Probability vs. Chance — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Updated on October 11, 2023

**Probability is the mathematical measure of an event's likelihood, usually between 0 and 1. Chance refers to the possibility of an event occurring, often used in everyday language without precise numerical values.**

## Difference Between Probability and Chance

### Table of Contents

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## Key Differences

Probability is a term deeply rooted in mathematics and statistics. It quantifies the likelihood of an event happening and is often expressed as a fraction, decimal, or percentage between 0 and 1. The closer the probability is to 1, the more likely the event is to occur. On the other hand, chance is a more colloquial term, conveying the idea that something might happen, but without necessarily offering a precise measure. Both probability and chance address the uncertainty of outcomes, but probability offers a more defined, quantitative assessment.

When someone speaks of the "probability" of an event, they're often referring to a precise or calculable measure. For instance, in a deck of cards, the probability of drawing an ace is 4 out of 52. Chance, however, is a more general term. If someone says there's a "chance" of rain tomorrow, they might not be referencing a specific percentage but rather indicating that rain is a possibility. Both probability and chance touch upon future uncertainties, but probability is often more rigorous and exact.

In some contexts, probability and chance might be used interchangeably, especially in everyday language. When someone says, "There's a good chance I'll come to the party," they might mean there's a high probability. However, in disciplines like statistics, finance, or science, probability has a strict definition and is calculated based on given data. Both probability and chance reflect potential outcomes, but their usage can vary based on the context and desired precision.

In essence, while both terms address the realm of uncertainty, probability leans more towards quantitative analysis and precision. Chance, meanwhile, is broader and might be more qualitative, pointing to the possibility of an event without necessarily quantifying it. Both probability and chance are integral to understanding and expressing the unpredictability inherent in various situations.

## Comparison Chart

### Definition

Mathematical measure of an event's likelihood.

General possibility of an event occurring.

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### Quantification

Typically expressed as a fraction, decimal, or percentage.

Might not be quantified.

### Field of Use

Common in mathematics, statistics, and science.

More colloquially used in everyday language.

### Precision

Provides a specific measure of likelihood.

Might be vague or general.

### Associated Perspective

Analytical and data-driven.

Qualitative and based on observation or belief.

## Compare with Definitions

#### Probability

Probability can be expressed as a fraction, decimal, or percentage.

The probability of drawing a red card from a standard deck is 0.5 or 50%.

#### Chance

Chance can be used to express uncertain outcomes without specific measures.

There's a good chance it'll snow tonight.

#### Probability

Probability is fundamental in statistics and predictive analysis.

Based on customer behavior, the probability of a sale is 65%.

#### Chance

Chance can be synonymous with risk or opportunity in some contexts.

Taking a new job in a different city is a big chance to take.

#### Probability

Probability is the measure of the likelihood of an event occurring.

The probability of flipping a coin and getting heads is 0.5.

#### Chance

The unknown and unpredictable element in happenings that seems to have no assignable cause.

#### Probability

Probability is the branch of mathematics concerning numerical descriptions of how likely an event is to occur, or how likely it is that a proposition is true. The probability of an event is a number between 0 and 1, where, roughly speaking, 0 indicates impossibility of the event and 1 indicates certainty.

#### Chance

A force assumed to cause events that cannot be foreseen or controlled; luck

Chance will determine the outcome.

#### Probability

The quality or state of being probable; the extent to which something is likely to happen or be the case

The rain will make the probability of a postponement even greater

#### Chance

Often chances The likelihood of something happening; possibility or probability

Chances are good that you will win. Is there any chance of rain?.

#### Probability

The quality or condition of being probable; likelihood.

#### Chance

An accidental or unpredictable event

"He sprang to his feet and turned to run. At the same moment by a lucky chance the moon broke through the clouds" (Arthur Conan Doyle).

#### Probability

A probable situation, condition, or event

Her election is a clear probability.

#### Chance

A favorable set of circumstances; an opportunity

A chance to escape.

#### Probability

The likelihood that a given event will occur

Little probability of rain tonight.

#### Chance

A risk or hazard; a gamble

Took a chance that the ice would hold me.

#### Probability

(Statistics) A number, ranging from zero to one, expressing either the projected likelihood that a specific event will occur or the observed ratio of the number of actual occurrences to the number of possible occurrences.

#### Chance

(Games) A raffle or lottery ticket.

#### Probability

The state of being probable; likelihood.

#### Chance

(Baseball) An opportunity to make a putout or an assist that counts as an error if unsuccessful.

#### Probability

An event that is likely to occur.

#### Chance

Caused by or ascribable to chance; unexpected, random, or casual

A chance encounter.

A chance result.

#### Probability

The relative likelihood of an event happening.

#### Chance

To take the risk or hazard of

We thought we could jump over the puddle, but we were not willing to chance it.

#### Probability

(mathematics) A number, between 0 and 1, expressing the precise likelihood of an event happening.

The probability of an event A occurring is denoted P(A).

#### Chance

To have the fortune (to be or do something); happen

"My eye chanced to fall on the wizened houseplant on the windowsill" (Elisabeth Brink).

#### Probability

The quality or state of being probable; appearance of reality or truth; reasonable ground of presumption; likelihood.

Probability is the appearance of the agreement or disagreement of two ideas, by the intervention of proofs whose connection is not constant, but appears for the most part to be so.

#### Chance

Used with the impersonal subject it and a following clause or infinitive to indicate the occurrence of a usually unexpected or chance event

"Now it chanced that this car-line was owned by gentlemen who were trying to make money" (Upton Sinclair).

#### Probability

That which is or appears probable; anything that has the appearance of reality or truth.

The whole life of man is a perpetual comparison of evidence and balancing of probabilities.

We do not call for evidence till antecedent probabilities fail.

#### Chance

(countable) An opportunity or possibility.

We had the chance to meet the president last week.

#### Probability

A measure of how likely it is that some event will occur;

What is the probability of rain?

We have a good chance of winning

#### Chance

(uncountable) Random occurrence; luck.

Why leave it to chance when a few simple steps will secure the desired outcome?

#### Probability

The quality of being probable

#### Chance

(countable) The probability of something happening.

There is a 30 percent chance of rain tomorrow.

#### Probability

Probability quantifies uncertain outcomes in mathematical terms.

Based on the weather data, the probability of rain tomorrow is 80%.

#### Chance

(in plural as chances) probability; possibility.

#### Probability

Probability evaluates the certainty or uncertainty of events.

Given the symptoms, the probability of the diagnosis being accurate is 90%.

#### Chance

What befalls or happens to a person; their lot or fate.

#### Chance

Happening by chance, casual.

#### Chance

(obsolete) Perchance; perhaps.

#### Chance

To happen by chance, to occur.

It chanced that I found a solution the very next day.

#### Chance

To befall; to happen to.

#### Chance

To try or risk.

Shall we carry the umbrella, or chance a rainstorm?

#### Chance

To discover something by chance.

He chanced upon a kindly stranger who showed him the way.

#### Chance

(Belize) To rob, cheat or swindle someone.

The car broke down a week after I bought it. I was chanced by that fast-talking salesman.

#### Chance

A supposed material or psychical agent or mode of activity other than a force, law, or purpose; fortune; fate; - in this sense often personified.

It is strictly and philosophically true in nature and reason that there is no such thing as chance or accident; it being evident that these words do not signify anything really existing, anything that is truly an agent or the cause of any event; but they signify merely men's ignorance of the real and immediate cause.

Any society into which chance might throw him.

That powerWhich erring men call Chance.

#### Chance

The operation or activity of such agent.

By chance a priest came down that way.

#### Chance

The supposed effect of such an agent; something that befalls, as the result of unknown or unconsidered forces; the issue of uncertain conditions; an event not calculated upon; an unexpected occurrence; a happening; accident; fortuity; casualty.

In the field of observation, chance favors only the mind that is prepared.

It was a chance that happened to us.

The Knave of Diamonds tries his wily arts,And wins (O shameful chance!) the Queen of Hearts.

I spake of most disastrous chance.

#### Chance

A possibility; a likelihood; an opportunity; - with reference to a doubtful result; as, a chance to escape; a chance for life; the chances are all against him.

So weary with disasters, tugged with fortune.That I would get my life on any chance,To mend it, or be rid on 't

#### Chance

Probability.

#### Chance

To happen, come, or arrive, without design or expectation.

If a bird's nest chance to be before thee.

I chanced on this letter.

How chance, thou art returned so soon?

#### Chance

To take the chances of; to venture upon; - usually with it as object.

Come what will, I will chance it.

#### Chance

To befall; to happen to.

#### Chance

Happening by chance; casual.

#### Chance

By chance; perchance.

#### Chance

A possibility due to a favorable combination of circumstances;

The holiday gave us the opportunity to visit Washington

Now is your chance

#### Chance

An unknown and unpredictable phenomenon that causes an event to result one way rather than another;

Bad luck caused his downfall

We ran into each other by pure chance

#### Chance

A risk involving danger;

You take a chance when you let her drive

#### Chance

A measure of how likely it is that some event will occur;

What is the probability of rain?

We have a good chance of winning

#### Chance

Be the case by chance;

I chanced to meet my old friend in the street

#### Chance

Take a risk in the hope of a favorable outcome;

When you buy these stocks you are gambling

#### Chance

Come upon, as if by accident; meet with;

We find this idea in Plato

I happened upon the most wonderful bakery not very far from here

She chanced upon an interesting book in the bookstore the other day

#### Chance

Occurring or appearing or singled out by chance;

Their accidental meeting led to a renewal of their friendship

Seek help from casual passers-by

A casual meeting

A chance occurrence

#### Chance

Chance refers to the possibility of something happening.

There's a chance I might visit Europe next summer.

#### Chance

Chance often implies unpredictability or randomness.

Winning the lottery is purely by chance.

#### Chance

Chance speaks to the unpredictability inherent in various situations.

By chance, they met at the same cafe after years apart.

## Common Curiosities

#### What does chance mean?

Chance refers to the possibility or likelihood of a particular event happening, often used in a more qualitative or informal context.

#### What is probability?

Probability quantifies the likelihood of an event occurring, typically expressed as a fraction, decimal, or percentage between 0 and 1 (or 0% and 100%).

#### Is there a difference between probability and chance?

While both relate to the likelihood of events, probability is a more quantitative measure, whereas chance is often used more qualitatively.

#### How is probability calculated?

Probability is calculated as the ratio of the number of favorable outcomes to the total number of possible outcomes.

#### Is "by chance" the same as "randomly"?

Generally, yes. Saying something happened "by chance" often means it happened without intention or predictability, much like "randomly."

#### Can probability ever be 100%?

Theoretically, a probability of 100% means an event is certain to occur, but in practical applications, absolute certainties are rare.

#### How do probability and chance relate to risk?

Both concepts can be used to assess risk. If there's a high probability or chance of an event occurring, it might be considered a high risk.

#### Are probability and chance used in gambling?

Yes, both terms are frequently used in gambling contexts to describe the odds or likelihood of particular outcomes.

#### Is taking a chance the same as taking a risk?

Often, yes. When one "takes a chance," they are usually accepting some level of risk or uncertainty.

#### How does probability relate to statistics?

Probability provides the theoretical foundation for statistics, guiding predictions and inferences about populations based on sample data.

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Written by

Fiza RafiqueFiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at AskDifference.com, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

Edited by

Tayyaba RehmanTayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.