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From Latin expectāre, infinitive form of exspectō (look out for, await, expect), from ex (out) + spectō (look at), frequentative of speciō (see).


  • IPA(key): /ɪkˈspɛkt/, /ɛkˈspɛkt/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: ex‧pect
  • Rhymes: -ɛkt


expect (third-person singular simple present expects, present participle expecting, simple past and past participle expected)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To predict or believe that something will happen
    Synonyms: anticipate, hope, look for
    I expect to be able to walk again after getting over my broken leg.
    He never expected to be discovered.
    We ended up waiting a little longer than we had expected
    The doctor said he expected me to make a full recovery.
  2. To consider obligatory or required.
    Synonyms: call for, demand
    • 1805, Nelson, Horatio via Pasco, John, signal sent at the Battle of Trafalgar:
      England expects that every man will do his duty.
    • 2015, Sajith Buvi, I Am 7.5 Billion Human, page 49:
      I was born and immediately thrown into a society that makes its own rules, standards, and expectations. I am expected to behave. I am expected to deliver. I am expected to live up to the contrived standards of the society.
  3. To consider reasonably due.
    Synonyms: hope, want, wish
    You are expected to get the task done by the end of next week.
  4. (continuous aspect only, of a woman or couple) To be pregnant, to consider a baby due.
    • 2011, Eva Fischer-Dixon, The Bestseller
      “You are pregnant?” he asked with shock in his voice. “Yes, Justin, I am expecting a child,”
  5. (obsolete, transitive) To wait for; to await.
    Synonyms: await; see also Thesaurus:wait for
  6. (obsolete, intransitive) To wait; to stay.
    Synonym: wait
    • 1636, G[eorge] S[andys], “(please specify the page)”, in A Paraphrase upon the Psalmes of David. And upon the Hymnes Dispersed throughout the Old and New Testaments, London: [Andrew Hebb []], OCLC 1203213428:
      I will 'expect until my change in death, / And answer at Thy call

Usage notes[edit]

  • Expect is a mental act and mostly has a reference to the future, to some forthcoming event (e.g. a person expects to die, or he expects to survive). Think and believe may have reference to the past and present, as well as to the future (e.g. I think the mail has arrived; I believe he came home yesterday, that he is at home now). There is a not uncommon use of expect, which is a confusion of the two (e.g. I expect the mail has arrived; I expect he is at home). Await is a physical or moral act. We await something which, when it comes, will affect us personally. We expect what may, or may not, interest us personally. See also anticipate.
  • This is a catenative verb that takes the to infinitive. See Appendix:English catenative verbs


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Further reading[edit]