Definition of expect in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ɪkˈspɛkt/
Pronunciation: /ɛkˈspɛkt/


[with object]
1Regard (something) as likely to happen: it’s as well to expect the worst [with object and infinitive]: the hearing is expected to last a week [with clause]: one might expect that Hollywood would adjust its approach
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, watch for, look forward to, look ahead to, have in prospect;
contemplate, bargain for/on, bank on, be prepared for, plan for;
predict, forecast, foresee, prophesy, 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 it likely, think, believe, imagine, assume, conjecture, surmise, calculate, judge;
informal guess, reckon
North American informal 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.
1.3Require (something) as rightfully due or appropriate 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, look for, wish, want, hope for;
count on, rely on;
insist on, demand
1.4Require (someone) to fulfil 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: 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: his wife was expecting again
More 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.
pregnant, expecting a baby, having a baby, having a child, carrying a child;
French enceinte
informal in the family way, expecting a happy event, eating for two, preggers, preggy, with a bun in the oven, with one in the oven
British informal in the club, in the pudding club, up the duff, up the spout, up the stick
North American informal knocked up
Australian informal preggo, clucky
informal, dated in trouble, in pod
technical gravid, parturient
archaic with child, heavy/big with child, in a delicate condition, in an interesting condition, childing, on the way
rare impregnate

(only) to be expected

Completely normal: he had a few lines about the eyes, but at forty-seven that was only 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: What do you expect? He was just like all the others, only you were too thick to see it
More 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: /ɪkˈspɛktəb(ə)l/
Pronunciation: /ɛkˈspɛktəb(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.


Example sentences
  • The most ineffectually effete choreography comes, expectably, in the second-act numbers where men still dance with women, a veritable embarrassment of glitches.
  • Science has defined life, expectably, according to the empirical data available.
  • The views are expectably spectacular, including the descent to Menton.


Example sentences
  • She is now working for a doctorate, and expectedly, the topic relates to children and young people, their moral judgment in relation to self-concept, self-esteem, and moral values.
  • Has this particular realm of journalism lived up to your youthful - and expectedly utopian - expectations?
  • Wages and salaries in the organised sector have, expectedly, been fairly buoyant through the 1990s.


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

Line breaks: ex¦pect

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.