ex·​pec·​tan·​cy | \ik-ˈspek-tən(t)-sē \
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

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 But the life-expectancy payout method wouldn’t be available for such a trust, Ms. Choate notes. Glenn Ruffenach, WSJ, "Should New Retirees Travel a Lot? We Did.," 1 June 2018 In New York City, during Mike Bloomberg’s time as mayor, these policies led to drastic reductions in smoking, contributing to a three-year increase in life-expectancy. Sandy Bauers, Philly.com, "Chronic diseases, accidents are the top global health threats. What can we do about it?," 1 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 But new research from Harvard University, published this week in the journal Circulation, suggests these five habits have a dramatic effect on life-expectancy. Jason Lemon, ajc, "These 5 healthy habits could extend your life by a dozen years, study says," 3 May 2018 That stat win-expectancy rates to determine the extent to which a player helps his team’s chances of winning games, and by it, Hader ranks fourth in the Majors this season. Ted Berg, For The Win, "Is Brewers reliever Josh Hader the future, or is he a future starter?," 1 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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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 \
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).


playful or foolish behavior

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