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

Example Sentences

She had a feeling of great anticipation before her graduation ceremony. He looked forward to the party with anticipation.
Recent Examples on the Web The Navy retired the Perry class in the 2000s and 2010s—first to downsize, and then with the anticipation that the new frigate-sized littoral combat ships would replace them. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 16 May 2023 The strengthening ties between Erdogan and Putin have caused jitters in the West, with some watching the upcoming elections with anticipation of a possible Erdogan exit. Mostafa Salem, CNN, 12 May 2023 No one can own chord progressions or an anticipation or a few commonplace lyrics or pitch sequences. Chris Willman, Variety, 5 May 2023 Gordy Haab: Following the success of Fallen Order, there was a lot of anticipation and excitement around continuing our musical journey on Survivor, but also a desire to build upon and potentially surpass our previous work. Josh Chesler, SPIN, 4 May 2023 Rihanna, meanwhile, had not performed live in more than five years, so anticipation was huge. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 3 May 2023 Today, as a trailblazing drag queen performer and recording artist, Aviance still begins his sets offstage, skillfully timing his entrance as the crowd’s anticipation builds. Janay Kingsberry, Washington Post, 28 Apr. 2023 Planning your gear for a hiking trip amps up anticipation in the best way. Maggie Slepian, Travel + Leisure, 21 Apr. 2023 The elusive musician hadn’t delivered a live performance in six years and was actually supposed to headline the festival in 2020, so to say the anticipation was high would be a massive understatement. Larisha Paul, Rolling Stone, 17 Apr. 2023 See More

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 3 Jun. 2023.

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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