Is 多分 more neutral:

明日 多分 行く - I might go tomorrow

While 恐らく has a negative nuance:

姫を閉じ込めるとしたら 恐らく天守閣だ - If I were to lock up the princess, I'd dare say it would be the castle tower


明日 恐らく 行く - I might [unfortunately] go tommorrow

2 Answers 2


dictionary.goo.ne.jp explains the differences thusly (written in Japanese):


Edit: My rough translation - In sentences such as 「多分(おそらく)今日は帰りが遅くなります」 and 「Aチームが多分(おそらく)優勝するだろう」 involving guessing or conjecture, they are interchangeable. ◇ Both words are also acceptable involving past-tense guessing or conjecture: 「あれは多分おととしの暮れだったと思う」「彼はおそらくその事実を知っていたであろう」 ◇ For 「おそらく」, its original meaning implying a negative nuance or negative potential outcome is still common: 「おそらく後悔するだろう」 ◇ 「多分」sounds more casual, 「おそらく」sounds more polite: 「多分彼は来ないだろう」「おそらく彼は来ないでしょう」 ◇ There is also the related spoken/colloquial word 「きっと」 used in the same way as 「多分」 and 「おそらく」, but which implies a more certain possibility of realization: 「Aチームがきっと優勝するだろう」.


Here's the simple explanation:

  1. 恐らく expresses dismay or regret, while 多分 is neutral.
  2. 恐らく is more formal, while 多分 sounds more careless and possibly rude.

In other words, 恐らく can be translated as "I'm afraid that..." or "is likely to" (as opposed to "probably").

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