In a paper I want to state that a certain course of action increases the "chances of success" - with success defined earlier in the work.

In my field, words like "probability", "odds", and "likelihood" (and the associated variants) have certain connotations, and are likely to elicit semantic arguments, so I'd like to avoid those words.

The word "chances" seems colloquial.

Are there any other phrases that connote the idea that a certain course of action is more likely to lead to optimal outcomes, while avoiding any words that have mathematical or statistical connotations?

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    This question may receive more useful answers at SE English Language and Usage, especially if you provide an example sentence.
    – Harry
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 18:55
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    I think for a sentence that's supposed to be easily understood, "chance" is not a bad choice. There are also "success rate"...? And in fact, if the meaning is really "chance" chance, why can't it have "statistical" connotation? Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 19:07
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    "Probability" and "odds" are two entirely different things. Please do not use those two interchangeably. Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 19:51
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    you seem to have answered this in the question: "more likely to lead to optimal outcomes." However, I agree with @Penguin_Knight that maybe you should just choose the best statistical word -- precise language is a virtue!
    – sessej
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 19:53
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    I find it a little strange that you are asking for advice about a choice of words motivated by connotations specific to your academic field...and you have not told us your academic field. Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 5:48

3 Answers 3


My guess is that "optimal outcomes" may have the same problem as "likelihood" etc.

One possibility would be to restructure the sentence a bit, for example

Such-and-so procedures promote ... (perhaps "success").

It's much easier to help with a question like this if you give us some of the actual language you're going to use.


When I am drafting a paper I always keep a tab open in my web browser with wordreference.com English thesaurus. You can find synonyms, antonyms, etc fairly easily just by entering a word which you know to roughly express the idea you have in mind. This is particularly helpful to me as a non-native speaker but I can see how everyone could benefit from a similar strategy.

For your particular case, I suggest that you start by looking up "probability" and "success" until you end up with the noun or combination of adjective+noun that works best for you.


"Propensity" is a useful term, similarly you can reference an increase/decrease in the "tendency" of an event or success.

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