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  1. the act or the state of expecting: to wait in expectation.
  2. the act or state of looking forward or anticipating.
  3. an expectant mental attitude: a high pitch of expectation.
  4. something expected; a thing looked forward to.
  5. Often expectations. a prospect of future good or profit: to have great expectations.
  6. the degree of probability that something will occur: There is little expectation that he will come.
  7. Statistics. mathematical expectation.
  8. the state of being expected: a large sum of money in expectation.

Origin of expectation

1530–40; < Latin expectātiōn- (stem of expectātiō) an awaiting, equivalent to expectāt(us) (past participle of expectāre to expect) + -iōn- -ion
Related formsex·pec·ta·tion·al, adjectiveex·pec·ta·tion·ist, nouno·ver·ex·pec·ta·tion, nounpre·ex·pec·ta·tion, nounsu·per·ex·pec·ta·tion, noun
Can be confusedexpectancy expectation

Synonyms for expectation

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for expectation


  1. the act or state of expecting or the state of being expected
  2. (usually plural) something looked forward to, whether feared or hoped forwe have great expectations for his future; their worst expectations
  3. an attitude of expectancy or hope; anticipationto regard something with expectation
  4. statistics
    1. the numerical probability that an event will occur
    2. another term for expected value
Derived Formsexpectative (ɪkˈspɛktətɪv), adjective
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 expectation

1530s, from Middle French expectation (14c.) or directly from Latin expectationem/exspectationem (nominative expectatio/exspectatio) "anticipation, an awaiting," noun of action from past participle stem of expectare/exspectare (see expect). Related: Expectations.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper