See more synonyms for expect on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object)
  1. to look forward to; regard as likely to happen; anticipate the occurrence or the coming of: I expect to read it. I expect him later. She expects that they will come.
  2. to look for with reason or justification: We expect obedience.
  3. Informal. to suppose or surmise; guess: I expect that you are tired from the trip.
  4. to anticipate the birth of (one's child): Paul and Sylvia expect their second very soon.
  1. be expecting, to be pregnant: The cat is expecting again.

Origin of expect

1550–60; < Latin ex(s)pectāre to look out for, await, equivalent to ex- ex-1 + spectāre to look at, frequentative of specere; see spectacle
Related formsex·pect·a·ble, adjectiveex·pect·a·bly, adverbex·pect·ed·ly, adverbex·pect·ed·ness, nounex·pect·er, nounex·pect·ing·ly, adverbo·ver·ex·pect, verbpre·ex·pect, verb (used with object)un·ex·pect·a·ble, adjectiveun·ex·pect·a·bly, adverbun·ex·pect·ing, adjectiveun·ex·pect·ing·ly, adverb

Synonyms for expect

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1. Expect, anticipate, hope, await all imply looking to some future event. Expect implies confidently believing, usually for good reasons, that an event will occur: to expect a visit from a friend. Anticipate is to look forward to an event and even to picture it: Do you anticipate trouble? Hope implies a wish that an event may take place and an expectation that it will: to hope for the best. Await ( wait for ) implies being alert and ready, whether for good or evil: to await news after a cyclone.

Usage note

3. This sense of expect ( I expect you went with them. I expect you want to leave now. ) is encountered in the speech of educated people but seldom in their writing.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for expect

Contemporary Examples of expect

Historical Examples of expect

  • And can you expect the youth of Athens to be wiser than their gods?


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Now tell me just what you expect a woman in my position to do.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • I am, in other words, an investment from which they expect large returns.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Now the folks out in this part of the country have come to expect it from a man like him.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • You will, however, expect me to say something of our latest enterprise.

British Dictionary definitions for expect


verb (tr; may take a clause as object or an infinitive)
  1. to regard as probable or likely; anticipatehe expects to win
  2. to look forward to or be waiting forwe expect good news today
  3. to decide that (something) is requisite or necessary; requirethe boss expects us to work late today
See also expecting
Derived Formsexpectable, adjectiveexpectably, adverb

Word Origin for expect

C16: from Latin exspectāre to watch for, from spectāre to look at
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for expect

1550s, "wait, defer action," from Latin expectare/exspectare "await, look out for, desire, hope," from ex- "thoroughly" (see ex-) + spectare "to look," frequentative of specere "to look at" (see scope (n.1)).

Figurative sense of "anticipate, look forward to" developed in Latin, attested in English from c.1600. Used since 1817 as a euphemism for "be pregnant." Related: Expected; expecting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with expect


see when least expected.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.