an·​tic·​i·​pa·​tion (ˌ)an-ˌti-sə-ˈpā-shən How to pronounce anticipation (audio)
: a prior action that takes into account or forestalls a later action
hired more security guards in anticipation of a large crowd
: the act of looking forward
especially : pleasurable expectation
looked forward with anticipation to their arrival
: the use of money before it is available
: visualization of a future event or state
: an object or form that anticipates a later type
: the early sounding of one or more tones of a succeeding chord to form a temporary dissonance compare suspension
Choose the Right Synonym for anticipation

prospect, outlook, anticipation, foretaste mean an advance realization of something to come.

prospect implies expectation of a particular event, condition, or development of definite interest or concern.

the prospect of a quiet weekend

outlook suggests a forecasting of the future.

a favorable outlook for the economy

anticipation implies a prospect or outlook that involves advance suffering or enjoyment of what is foreseen.

the anticipation of her arrival

foretaste implies an actual though brief or partial experience of something forthcoming.

the frost was a foretaste of winter

Examples of anticipation in a Sentence

She had a feeling of great anticipation before her graduation ceremony. He looked forward to the party with anticipation.
Recent Examples on the Web But mortgage rates could begin easing in coming weeks, if bond yields move lower in anticipation of a Fed rate cut, said Lisa Sturtevant, chief economist at Bright MLS. Sasha Rogelberg, Fortune, 4 July 2024 Another scene in the video shows dozens of people sitting on the ground around the flatscreen with even more standing around in the back — first watching in anticipation as the game went into extra time, then jumping around in celebration following the team’s win. Larisha Paul, Rolling Stone, 1 July 2024 Meanwhile, near the stage, thousands of fans at the beach waited in anticipation as the rain came in droves. Jordan McPherson, Miami Herald, 30 June 2024 Not sure what to expect tonight, but am getting ready to watch with a mix of dread and anticipation. Washington Post Opinions Staff, Washington Post, 28 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for anticipation 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'anticipation.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see anticipate

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of anticipation was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near anticipation

Cite this Entry

“Anticipation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


an·​tic·​i·​pa·​tion (ˌ)an-ˌtis-ə-ˈpā-shən How to pronounce anticipation (audio)
: an earlier action that takes into account and deals with or prevents a later action
: pleasurable expectation
: the act of providing for an expected event or state

Medical Definition


an·​tic·​i·​pa·​tion (ˌ)an-ˌtis-ə-ˈpā-shən How to pronounce anticipation (audio)
: occurrence (as of a disease or symptom) before the normal or expected time
: mental attitude that influences a later response

Legal Definition


an·​ti·​ci·​pa·​tion an-ˌti-sə-ˈpā-shən How to pronounce anticipation (audio)
: the knowledge or use of an invention in the U.S. or the patenting or describing of the invention in a publication in the U.S. or a foreign country before the discovery by a patent applicant

Note: Case law has established that every claim or element of a claim has to be disclosed in the prior art in order for a patent application to be barred by anticipation. If an application is amended to consist of claims not disclosed in the prior art, invalidation by anticipation can be avoided.

More from Merriam-Webster on anticipation

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