verb an·tic·i·pate \ an-ˈti-sə-ˌpāt \
|Updated on: 14 Aug 2018

Definition of anticipate

anticipated; anticipating
1 : to give advance thought, discussion, or treatment to
2 : to meet (an obligation) before a due date
3 : to foresee and deal with in advance : forestall
4 : to use or expend in advance of actual possession
5 : to act before (another) often so as to check or counter
6 : to look forward to as certain : expect
  • We don't anticipate any problems during the construction.
: to speak or write in knowledge or expectation of later matter


play \-ˌpā-tə-bəl\ adjective


play \-ˌpā-tər\ noun

Examples of anticipate in a Sentence

  1. The cost turned out to be higher than anticipated.

  2. The author anticipated objections to his theory.

  3. The organizers of the fair anticipate a large crowd.

  4. I did not anticipate having to pay for your ticket.

  5. He eagerly anticipated her arrival.

Recent Examples of anticipate from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'anticipate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of anticipate

Latin anticipatus, past participle of anticipare, from ante- + -cipare (from capere to take) — more at heave

Synonym Discussion of anticipate

foresee, foreknow, divine, anticipate mean to know beforehand. foresee implies nothing about how the knowledge is derived and may apply to ordinary reasoning and experience.
    • economists should have foreseen the recession
foreknow usually implies supernatural assistance, as through revelation.
    • if only we could foreknow our own destinies
divine adds to foresee the suggestion of exceptional wisdom or discernment.
    • was able to divine Europe's rapid recovery from the war
anticipate implies taking action about or responding emotionally to something before it happens.
    • the waiter anticipated our every need
prevent, anticipate, forestall mean to deal with beforehand. prevent implies taking advance measures against something possible or probable.
    • measures taken to prevent leaks
anticipate may imply merely getting ahead of another by being a precursor or forerunner or it may imply checking another's intention by acting first.
    • anticipated the question by making a statement
forestall implies a getting ahead so as to stop or interrupt something in its course.
    • hoped to forestall the sale

ANTICIPATE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of anticipate for English Language Learners

  • : to think of (something that will or might happen in the future)

  • : to expect or look ahead to (something) with pleasure : to look forward to (something)

  • : to do something before someone else

ANTICIPATE Defined for Kids


verb an·tic·i·pate \ an-ˈti-sə-ˌpāt \

Definition of anticipate for Students

anticipated; anticipating
1 : to foresee and deal with or provide for beforehand
  • The waiters anticipate your every wish.
2 : to look forward to
  • … now everyone anticipated the celebration.
  • —Pam Muñoz Ryan, Esperanza Rising

Medical Dictionary


verb an·tic·i·pate \ an-ˈtis-ə-ˌpāt \

medical Definition of anticipate

anticipated; anticipating
: to give advance thought to
: to come before the expected time used especially of medical symptoms

Law Dictionary


transitive verb an·tic·i·pate \ an-ˈti-sə-ˌpāt \

legal Definition of anticipate

anticipated; anticipating
1 : to bar or invalidate (a patent) by anticipation
  • the patent on the compound had been anticipated by the Beilstein reference
  • Misani v. Ortho Pharm. Corp., 210 A.2d 609 (1965)
2 : to negate the novelty of (an invention) by its appearance in prior art
  • appeared to have anticipated a variable light makeup mirror
  • Wilson v. Bristol-Myers Co., 503 N.Y.S.2d 334 (1986)

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