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
  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
    • c. 1596–1598, William Shakespeare, “The Merchant of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act V, scene i]:
      Let's in, and there expect their coming.
    • 1825, Walter Scott, The Talisman, A. and C. Black (1868), 24-25:
      The knight fixed his eyes on the opening with breathless anxiety, and continuing to kneel in the attitude of devotion which the place and scene required, expected the consequence of these preparations.
  6. (obsolete, intransitive) To wait; to stay.
    Synonym: wait
    • 1636, George Sandys, Paraphrase upon the Psalms and Hymns dispersed throughout the Old and New Testaments
      I will 'expect until my change in death,
      And answer at Thy call

Usage notesEdit

  • 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 termsEdit

Related termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Further readingEdit