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

The United States has actually narrowed its life-expectancy gap with Sweden and Norway in the interim. William A. Estes, National Review, "The American Medical Association Flirts with Socialized Medicine," 28 June 2019 By 1993, a peak year for violent crime, the life-expectancy gap between black and white men had widened again by nearly three years, to 8.5 years. The Economist, "Black men in America are living almost as long as white men," 14 June 2019 Those triggers typically fall into one of four camps: expectancy, value, time or impulsivity, says Alexander Rozental, a procrastination researcher and a clinical neuroscientist at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "Psychologists Explain Why You Procrastinate — And How to Stop," 29 June 2018 But on this night, in the main swimming area at Splash Country, Aurora’s water facility on the far West Side, the fun had more structure and there was more expectancy in the air. Steve Lord, Aurora Beacon-News, "New program in Aurora gives swim lessons to kids from low-income families," 8 June 2018 Chelsea wouldn't be expecting to get much more than £20m for the Brazilian, and the expectancy is that Napoli would expect to pay under £15m for his services. SI.com, "Napoli Offer Chelsea a Way Out of Paying Maurizio Sarri's £7m Buyout Fee," 23 May 2018 Those things carry lifelong expectancies outside of football. Perry A. Farrell, Detroit Free Press, "Quarterback University molding future college QBs in Detroit, nationally," 5 May 2018

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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Statistics for expectancy

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for expectancy

The first known use of expectancy was in 1600

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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

What made you want to look up expectancy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


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