an·​tic·​i·​pate an-ˈti-sə-ˌpāt How to pronounce anticipate (audio)
anticipated; anticipating

transitive verb

: to give advance thought, discussion, or treatment to
: to meet (an obligation) before a due date
: to foresee and deal with in advance : forestall
: to use or expend in advance of actual possession
: to act before (another) often so as to check or counter
: to look forward to as certain : expect
We don't anticipate any problems during the construction.

intransitive verb

: to speak or write in knowledge or expectation of later matter
anticipatable adjective
anticipator noun
Choose the Right Synonym for anticipate

foresee, foreknow, divine, anticipate mean to know beforehand.

foresee implies nothing about how the knowledge is derived and may apply to ordinary reasoning and experience.

economists should have foreseen the recession

foreknow usually implies supernatural assistance, as through revelation.

if only we could foreknow our own destinies

divine adds to foresee the suggestion of exceptional wisdom or discernment.

was able to divine Europe's rapid recovery from the war

anticipate implies taking action about or responding emotionally to something before it happens.

the waiter anticipated our every need

prevent, anticipate, forestall mean to deal with beforehand.

prevent implies taking advance measures against something possible or probable.

measures taken to prevent leaks

anticipate may imply merely getting ahead of another by being a precursor or forerunner or it may imply checking another's intention by acting first.

anticipated the question by making a statement

forestall implies a getting ahead so as to stop or interrupt something in its course.

hoped to forestall the sale

Example Sentences

The cost turned out to be higher than anticipated. The author anticipated objections to his theory. The organizers of the fair anticipate a large crowd. I did not anticipate having to pay for your ticket. He eagerly anticipated her arrival.
Recent Examples on the Web In an effort to anticipate future regulations, Spanish carrier Air Nostrum recently ordered 10 Airlander airships from Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) of Britain. Basem Wasef, Robb Report, 29 Jan. 2023 The senators’ bill aims to anticipate those effects. Fiorella Valdesolo, Vogue, 27 Jan. 2023 Most commonly, businesses fail to anticipate how steep the learning curve can be when teams are adapting to complex new software tools. Alon Ghelber, Forbes, 27 Jan. 2023 Some large-scale urban redevelopment projects, such as the 11th Street Bridge Park in Washington, seem to be making serious efforts to anticipate and mitigate gentrification and displacement. Dan Immergluck, Fortune, 25 Jan. 2023 Lynch learned fast to anticipate passes or handoffs and take the best route to the football. San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Jan. 2023 The Ravens don't anticipate the injuries becoming a trend and see it more as a result of football and bad luck, Harbaugh said. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, 20 Jan. 2023 Specifically, his rush line off the snap is extremely consistent, keeping offensive tackles honest and leaving them unable to anticipate an upcoming rush move. Dallas News, 20 Jan. 2023 There are plenty of body changes to anticipate during pregnancy—a growing belly chief among them, of course. Korin Miller, SELF, 20 Jan. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Latin anticipatus, past participle of anticipare, from ante- + -cipare (from capere to take) — more at heave entry 1

First Known Use

1532, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of anticipate was in 1532

Dictionary Entries Near anticipate

Cite this Entry

“Anticipate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


an·​tic·​i·​pate an-ˈtis-ə-ˌpāt How to pronounce anticipate (audio)
anticipated; anticipating
: to foresee and deal with or provide for beforehand
anticipated their objections
anticipated my every need
: to expect especially with pleasure
anticipate your visit next week
anticipator noun

Medical Definition


an·​tic·​i·​pate an-ˈtis-ə-ˌpāt How to pronounce anticipate (audio)
anticipated; anticipating

transitive verb

: to give advance thought to

intransitive verb

: to come before the expected time
used especially of medical symptoms

Legal Definition


transitive verb
an·​tic·​i·​pate an-ˈti-sə-ˌpāt How to pronounce anticipate (audio)
anticipated; anticipating
: to bar or invalidate (a patent) by anticipation
the patent on the compound had been anticipated by the Beilstein referenceMisani v. Ortho Pharm. Corp., 210 A.2d 609 (1965)
: to negate the novelty of (an invention) by its appearance in prior art
appeared to have anticipated a variable light makeup mirrorWilson v. Bristol-Myers Co., 503 N.Y.S.2d 334 (1986)

More from Merriam-Webster on anticipate

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