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Latin anticipatus, perfect passive participle of anticipare (anticipate); from ante (before), + capere (take). See capable.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ænˈtɪs.ɪ.peɪt/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ænˈtɪs.ə.peɪt/
  • (file)


anticipate (third-person singular simple present anticipates, present participle anticipating, simple past and past participle anticipated)

  1. (transitive) To act before (someone), especially to prevent an action.
    • R. Hall
      to anticipate and prevent the duke's purpose
    • Thomas Babington Macaulay
      He would probably have died by the hand of the executioner, if indeed the executioner had not been anticipated by the populace.
  2. to take up or introduce (something) prematurely.
    The advocate plans to anticipate a part of her argument.
  3. to know of (something) before it happens; to expect.
    to anticipate the pleasures of a visit
    to anticipate the evils of life
    Please anticipate a journey of an hour from your house to the airport
    • 1907, Harold Bindloss, chapter 31, in The Dust of Conflict[1]:
      The task was more to Appleby's liking than the one he had anticipated, and it was necessary, since the smaller merchants in Cuba and also in parts of Peninsular Spain have no great confidence in bankers, and prefer a packet of golden onzas or a bag of pesetas to the best accredited cheque.
    • 2011 October 2, Jonathan Jurejko, “Bolton 1 - 5 Chelsea”, in BBC Sport[2]:
      And with Bolton suffering a wretched run of five straight home defeats - their worst run in 109 years - Chelsea fans would have been forgiven for expecting a comfortable win.
      But surely they did not anticipate the ease with which their team raced into an almost impregnable half-time lead.
  4. to eagerly wait for (something)
    Little Johnny started to anticipate the arrival of Santa Claus a week before Christmas.

Usage notesEdit

The words anticipate and expect both regard some future event as likely to take place. Nowadays they are often used interchangeably although anticipate is associated with acting because of an expectation: e.g. "skilled sportsmen anticipate the action and position themselves accordingly".


Related termsEdit