Definition of expect in English:

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Pronunciation: /ikˈspekt/


[with object]
1Regard (something) as likely to happen: we expect the best [with object and infinitive]: he expects the stock market to sink further [with clause]: we expect that farmers will harvest 63 million acres of hay
More example sentences
  • Meanwhile, the chances of a white Christmas in York looked less likely as showers were expected to stay on the west side of the country.
  • His optimism is based on record profits at banks and oil firms but he also expects the recovery in the stock markets to increase receipts, despite concerns over the US economy.
  • The firm expects interest rates to remain unchanged at least in the first half.
anticipate, await, look for, hope for, look forward to;
contemplate, bargain for/on, bank on;
predict, forecast, envisage, envision
1.1Regard (someone) as likely to do or be something: [with object and infinitive]: they were not expecting him to continue
More example sentences
  • Everybody expects me to continue on, business as usual.
  • It was pretty funny, but we didn't expect her to continue for too long, so we kept on going, walking along the road.
  • Mom doesn't say anything, she just waits like she expects me to continue, so I do.
suppose, presume, think, believe, imagine, assume, surmise
informal guess, reckon, figure
1.2Believe that (someone or something) will arrive soon: Celia was expecting a visitor
More example sentences
  • David Cuddy did announce his intention to cease inter county hurling this year but he is expected back very soon.
  • That monastery he talks about shouldn't expect him any time soon.
  • We expect him home soon and we feel sure he will make a good recovery.
1.3Look for (something) from someone as rightfully due or requisite in the circumstances: we expect great things of you
More example sentences
  • Most of us switch the system on and off as we require; we expect lots of heat and hot water 365 days a year.
  • Society requires and expects protection from drunken drivers, speeding drivers and dangerous drivers.
  • When is it appropriate to begin expecting mature judgments from children?
require, ask for, call for, want, insist on, demand
1.4Require (someone) to fulfill an obligation: [with object and infinitive]: we expect employers to pay a reasonable salary
More example sentences
  • Employers don't expect you to know everything, but they do assume you are willing to learn.
  • The bottom line is that employers expect you to have some sense of what you want to do in terms of career goals.
  • If you do not have the right to vote, why then, should you be expected to pay taxes.
1.5 (I expect) informal Used to indicate that one supposes something to be so, but has no firm evidence or knowledge: they’re just friends of his, I expect [with clause]: I expect you know them?
More example sentences
  • I am fed up with your council rubbish and propaganda and I expect a lot of other people are as well.
  • Whether it is a leadership academy or whatever, is a matter for others to decide, I expect.
  • There will be good and bad days, but I expect the rehab will be just as tough.



be expecting (a baby)

informal Be pregnant.
Example sentences
  • It is understood that the woman was told during her pregnancy that she was expecting twins.
  • I'm trying to get back into jogging but my wife Emma is expecting a baby in August - so I expect to be rather more occupied with that.
  • He praised the young couple for their serious commitment, counselled them through a miscarriage and, at their wedding one year later, joyfully announced during the ceremony that they were expecting a baby.

to be expected

Completely normal: wild swings in the weather are to be expected
More example sentences
  • As is to be expected at this level, no one boat is absolutely excelling and on-the-water rivalry is fierce.
  • It is to be expected that effective patriots are rarely popular outside their homelands.
  • I awoke with a mild hangover from a fun night: that much was to be expected.

what can (or do) you expect?

Used to emphasize that there was nothing unexpected about a person or event, however disappointed one might be.
Example sentences
  • Ever since the 1980s and the rise of the yuppie we've heard the refrain that ‘they see all this wealth on the TV which they haven't got - what do you expect?’
  • But if the investment is not there, the engineers are not there, the equipment purchased is not up to scratch, then what do you expect?
  • The Doctor said ‘Well if you take class A drugs what do you expect?’



Pronunciation: /ikˈspektəb(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • That kind of explanation on the part of the companies is expectable, but it's a cop-out.
  • People who know that rebuffs are expectable and that failure is remediable - that it results from lack of effort or situational factors and not personal inadequacy - are not debilitated by setbacks.
  • What previously would have been dismissed as ‘wild’ analysis became acceptable and expectable, given these new models of image, text, and culture.


Mid 16th century (in the sense 'defer action, wait'): from Latin exspectare 'look out for', from ex- 'out' + spectare 'to look' (frequentative of specere 'see').

  • First meaning ‘to wait for’, expect entered English from Latin exspectare ‘to look out for’, from spectare ‘to look’. Spectare is also the source of spectacle and many other English words ( see species). ‘England expects that every man will do his duty’ was the British admiral Lord Nelson's memorable last signal to his fleet before the Battle of Trafalgar, on 21 October 1805. See blind and kiss for more about Nelson.

Words that rhyme with expect

affect, bisect, bull-necked, collect, confect, connect, correct, defect, deflect, deject, detect, direct, effect, eject, elect, erect, infect, inflect, inject, inspect, interconnect, interject, intersect, misdirect, neglect, object, perfect, project, prospect, protect, reflect, reject, respect, resurrect, sect, select, subject, suspect, transect, unchecked, Utrecht

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ex·pect

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