ex·​pec·​ta·​tion | \ˌek-ˌspek-ˈtā-shən, ik-\

Definition of expectation 

1 : the act or state of expecting : anticipation in expectation of what would happen

2a : something expected not up to expectations expectations for an economic recovery

b : basis for expecting : assurance they have every expectation of success

c : prospects of inheritance usually used in plural

3 : the state of being expected

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Other Words from expectation

expectational \ ˌek-​ˌspek-​ˈtā-​shə-​nᵊl , -​shnəl \ adjective

Examples of expectation in a Sentence

The company has expectations of making a profit next year. I saved the files in the expectation that they would be useful in the future. There is widespread expectation that the strike will be settled soon. The crowd waited in expectation of her arrival.
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Recent Examples on the Web

So expectations are high for the wedding flowers of the couple's younger daughter, Princess Eugenie, who will marry Jack Brooksbank on October 12. Tamara Abraham, Harper's BAZAAR, "Everything You Need to Know About Princess Eugenie's Wedding Flowers," 3 Oct. 2018 One question stands out: Intel didn’t say much about Amber Lake, but low-power, fanless tablets have struggled to meet performance expectations. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Intel's Whiskey Lake notebook chip launches, emphasizing connectivity this time around," 28 Aug. 2018 As a woman of color with dark skin prone to hyperpigmentation, picking a good foundation is akin to gambling in Vegas: victory is uncertain, getting played is likely, and expectations are generally better than reality. Dafra Sanou, Allure, "How to Find Your Perfect Foundation Shade Match When You Have Dark Skin," 18 July 2018 But the cardiologist agrees that expectations of future rewards can promote bias. Charles Piller, Science | AAAS, "Hidden conflicts? Pharma payments to FDA advisers after drug approvals spark ethical concerns," 5 July 2018 That doesn’t fly in Europe, where expectations of privacy are more solidified, and local tech industry feels overshadowed by the American giants. Grace Dobush, Fortune, "EU Regulators Have a New Plan to Keep Google and Facebook in Line: Regulate Them Like Traditional Telecoms," 5 July 2018 Orlando City brought in a host of new players with the expectation of making the playoffs this season. Jordan Culver, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando City lands Louisville City’s James O’Connor as next head coach," 29 June 2018 No one is perfect, of course, but your child should generally be able to meet the school's behavioral expectations. Mary Caldwell, ajc, "6 things your child should know before entering preschool," 29 June 2018 Women complain about the outdated expectations of potential suitors. The Economist, "South Korea’s fertility rate is the lowest in the world," 28 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'expectation.' 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 expectation

1540, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for expectation

Last Updated

14 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for expectation

The first known use of expectation was in 1540

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More Definitions for expectation



English Language Learners Definition of expectation

: a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen

: a feeling or belief about how successful, good, etc., someone or something will be


ex·​pec·​ta·​tion | \ˌek-ˌspek-ˈtā-shən \

Kids Definition of expectation

1 : the state of looking forward to or waiting for something The crowd waited in expectation for her.

2 : something expected The expectation was for a win.

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