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Latin expectatum (to look out for, await, expect), ex (out) + spectare (to look at). Confer spectacle.



to expect

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

to expect (third-person singular simple present -, present participle -, simple past and past participle -)
  1. To look for (mentally); to look forward to, as to something that is believed to be about to happen or come; to have a previous apprehension of, whether of good or evil; to look for with some confidence; to anticipate; -- often followed by an infinitive, sometimes by a clause (with, or without, that); as I expect to receive wages; I expect that the troops will be defeated.
    • Good: I will expect you. Shakespeare
    • Expecting thy reply. Shakespeare
    • The Somersetshire or yellow regiment ... was expected to arrive on the following day. Macaulay.
  2. to consider obligatory or required;
  3. to consider reasonably due;
    You are expected to get the task done by the end of next week.
  4. (obsolete) To wait for; to await.

Usage notes

  • Expect is a mental act and has always a reference to the future, to some coming event; as a person expects to die, or he expects to survive. Think and believe have reference to the past and present, as well as to the future; as I think the mail has arrived; I believe he came home yesterday, that he is he is at home now. There is a not uncommon use of expect, which is a confusion of the two; as, I expect the mail has arrived; I expect he is at home. This misuse should be avoided. Await is a physical or moral act. We await that which, when it comes, will affect us personally. We expect what may, or may not, interest us personally. See anticipate.
  • This is a catenative verb that takes the to infinitive. See Appendix:English catenative verbs



Derived terms


Part or all of this page has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.

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