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

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 US fell from 78.9 years in 2019 to 76.6 years in 2021 – now more than five years less than the average among peer nations. Deidre Mcphillips, CNN, 7 Apr. 2022 Life expectancy is typically measured separately for males and females; overall, the pandemic’s toll was greater among males. Amanda Montañez, Scientific American, 31 Dec. 2021 Life expectancy in the U.S. was about 79 years old in 2019, up by close to a decade since the 1960s, though there was a notable decrease in 2020 as the result of the Covid-19 pandemic, records show. Katherine Clarke, WSJ, 23 Mar. 2022 Life expectancy for most racial groups has increased since then, but Black people can still expect to live shorter lives. Zakiya Luna, refinery29.com, 2 Feb. 2022 Life expectancy has increased in recent decades, but researchers are looking for ways to further slow the aging process. CBS News, 24 Nov. 2021 Life expectancy was short for a fighting man at the time. Katherine Pangonis, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Feb. 2022 Life expectancy: Men, 58 years; women, 61. Most popular boys names: John and Robert. Marc Bona, cleveland, 10 Jan. 2022 But a recent examination of life-expectancy data from the National Bureau of Economic Research reminds us that on that crucial metric, progress has been significant. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 11 Oct. 2021 See More

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.

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

11 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Expectancy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expectancy. Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for expectancy


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

More from Merriam-Webster on expectancy

Nglish: Translation of expectancy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of expectancy for Arabic Speakers


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