an·​tic·​i·​pate an-ˈti-sə-ˌpāt How to pronounce anticipate (audio)
anticipated; anticipating

transitive verb

: to give advance thought, discussion, or treatment to
: to meet (an obligation) before a due date
: to foresee and deal with in advance : forestall
: to use or expend in advance of actual possession
: to act before (another) often so as to check or counter
: to look forward to as certain : expect
We don't anticipate any problems during the construction.

intransitive verb

: to speak or write in knowledge or expectation of later matter
anticipatable adjective
anticipator noun
Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Example Sentences

The cost turned out to be higher than anticipated. The author anticipated objections to his theory. The organizers of the fair anticipate a large crowd. I did not anticipate having to pay for your ticket. He eagerly anticipated her arrival.
Recent Examples on the Web In the face of drip pricing, customers failed to anticipate the fees and were undeterred from making a purchase when fees were tacked on late in the process. Michael Luca, WSJ, 23 Nov. 2022 Plants, animals, fungi, and cyanobacteria have all independently evolved circadian clock genes to anticipate changes in their environments by controlling when cells express other genes. Allessandra Dicorato, STAT, 21 Nov. 2022 Researchers would have to demonstrate the animals’ ability to anticipate the beat, rather than simply respond to it, in order to prove the rats exhibit beat synchronization, Honing tells the Wall Street Journal. Jacquelyne Germain, Smithsonian Magazine, 18 Nov. 2022 But the president’s office said the disaster was unrelated to his new antidrug campaign in recent weeks, instead blaming the police and other agencies for failing to anticipate crowd accidents. Choe Sang-hun, New York Times, 17 Nov. 2022 From the burst of the dot-com bubble at the turn of the millennium to the rampant privacy mishaps at Facebook decades later, federal policymakers historically have been slow to anticipate the troubles of the digital age. Tony Romm, Anchorage Daily News, 17 Nov. 2022 But Zuckerberg is one of a growing list of prominent tech leaders who are cutting costs and issuing mea culpas after failing to anticipate a whiplash in the market between 2020 and 2022. Catherine Thorbecke, CNN, 10 Nov. 2022 As the push to anticipate disasters increases, more funding is going into early warning systems for humanitarian aid. Quartz, 4 Nov. 2022 Bond traders, Wall Street bankers and market analysts all try to anticipate the Fed’s next moves. Emily Wright, Washington Post, 31 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


Latin anticipatus, past participle of anticipare, from ante- + -cipare (from capere to take) — more at heave entry 1

First Known Use

1532, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of anticipate was in 1532

Dictionary Entries Near anticipate

Cite this Entry

“Anticipate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


an·​tic·​i·​pate an-ˈtis-ə-ˌpāt How to pronounce anticipate (audio)
anticipated; anticipating
: to foresee and deal with or provide for beforehand
anticipated their objections
anticipated my every need
: to expect especially with pleasure
anticipate your visit next week
anticipator noun

Medical Definition


an·​tic·​i·​pate an-ˈtis-ə-ˌpāt How to pronounce anticipate (audio)
anticipated; anticipating

transitive verb

: to give advance thought to

intransitive verb

: to come before the expected time
used especially of medical symptoms

Legal Definition


transitive verb
an·​tic·​i·​pate an-ˈti-sə-ˌpāt How to pronounce anticipate (audio)
anticipated; anticipating
: 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)
: 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)

More from Merriam-Webster on anticipate

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