ex·​pec·​tan·​cy | \ ik-ˈspek-tən(t)-sē How to pronounce expectancy (audio) \
plural expectancies

Definition of expectancy

1a : the act, action, or state of expecting the strange expectancy that getting on any train gives us— John Updike
b : the state of being expected occurs with an expectancy slightly greater than usual
2a : something expected their belief led to an expectancy
b : the expected amount (as of the number of years of life) based on statistical probability life expectancy

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Examples of expectancy in a Sentence

that feeling of optimistic expectancy that fills theatergoers as they wait for the curtain to rise
Recent Examples on the Web Life expectancy in the U.S. decreased from 2014 to 2017 by .3 years and slightly increased 2018 through 2019 by .2 years, according to CDC data. Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY, "Life expectancy in the US is at its lowest in 15 years, study finds; Blacks, Latinos experience worse declines," 18 Feb. 2021 Life expectancy in the mid-Victorian era was barely over 40 years. Washington Post, "In London’s Crystal Palace neighborhood, looking backward to move forward," 12 Feb. 2021 Life expectancy in the U.S dropped a staggering one year during the first half of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic caused its first wave of deaths, the CDC reported in February. Nancy Clanton, ajc, "CDC: Southerners have shorter life expectancies in U.S.," 11 Mar. 2021 Here's a pretty shocking statistic: Life expectancy for all Americans fell by a full year in the first half of 2020 … but for Latinos, nearly two years, and for Black Americans, nearly three years. CBS News, "COVID-19 after one year: What will the future bring?," 7 Mar. 2021 Life expectancy in the United States dropped one year during the first half of 2020, with minorities suffering the biggest impact, Marc Bona reports in his weekly coronavirus timeline. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, "Does the grand jury system work in officer-involved shootings? The Wake Up for Monday, Feb. 22, 2021," 22 Feb. 2021 Life expectancy in the United States fell by a full year, the federal government reported on Thursday, marking the most staggering drop since World War II. Michael Williams, San Francisco Chronicle, "Bay Area vaccine shipments delayed by Midwest winter storms," 18 Feb. 2021 Life expectancy for those born in the United States decreased an average of a whole year amid the coronavirus pandemic, the largest margin since World War II. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "Life expectancy in US drops by a year during pandemic, largest decrease since WWII," 18 Feb. 2021 Life expectancy declined by a whopping 11.8 years from 1917 to 1918, Dr. Arias said, bringing average life spans down to 39 years. New York Times, "A Grim Measure of Covid’s Toll: Life Expectancy Drops Sharply in U.S.," 18 Feb. 2021

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

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First Known Use of expectancy

1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for expectancy

Time Traveler

The first known use of expectancy was in 1600

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Statistics for expectancy

Last Updated

5 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Expectancy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expectancy. Accessed 16 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for expectancy



English Language Learners Definition of expectancy

: a feeling that something is going to happen : the feeling that you have when you are expecting something


ex·​pec·​tan·​cy | \ -ˈspek-tən-sē How to pronounce expectancy (audio) \
plural expectancies

Medical Definition of expectancy

: the expected amount (as of the number of years of life) based on statistical probability — see life expectancy


plural expectancies

Legal Definition of expectancy

: something expected: as
a : an interest held by a person who may receive something (as a bequest) in the future but has no enforceable right to it
b : the benefit that will be received from a contract if performed

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Comments on expectancy

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