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Expect vs. Anticipate: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Expect implies confidently believing or considering it likely that something will happen, while anticipate involves taking action in preparation for an expected event.
Expect vs. Anticipate

Key Differences

Expectation denotes a strong belief that something will happen or be the case, often based on evidence or experience. Anticipation, on the other hand, not only implies expecting something but also involves mental or practical preparation for that event.
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Nov 20, 2023
While expect often implies a passive stance, merely waiting for an outcome, anticipate suggests a more active role, including readiness or preventive measures for expected scenarios.
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Expectation can exist without any accompanying actions; one can expect rain but not necessarily take any steps in response. Anticipation, in contrast, usually involves proactive behaviors, like carrying an umbrella in expectation of rain.
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Nov 20, 2023
In communication, telling someone you expect something often implies a demand or prediction, whereas to anticipate connotes a readiness or foresight, preparing for different potential outcomes.
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In a business context, expecting market changes is a predictive assessment, while anticipating them would involve strategic planning or adjustments in anticipation of these changes.
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Comparison Chart

Nature

Belief or prediction about a future event
Preparation and action for an expected event
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Activity Level

Often passive
Usually active
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Context Use

Common in expressing beliefs or predictions
Common in discussing readiness or preparation
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Emotional Connotation

Generally neutral
Often implies eagerness or preparedness
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In Business

Predictive analysis, e.g., sales forecasting
Proactive strategy, e.g., market trend analysis
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Expect and Anticipate Definitions

Expect

To consider something likely to happen.
I expect he will arrive soon.
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Nov 20, 2023

Anticipate

To foresee and act in advance.
She anticipated the storm by boarding up windows.
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Nov 20, 2023

Expect

To regard something as likely to occur.
She expects rain later today.
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Nov 20, 2023

Anticipate

To look forward to with eagerness.
They anticipate their vacation eagerly.
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Nov 20, 2023

Expect

To look forward to something.
We expect a call from them.
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Anticipate

To prevent or forestall.
Anticipating objections, she prepared a counterargument.
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Expect

To require or demand.
The job expects punctuality.
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Nov 20, 2023

Anticipate

To consider beforehand.
He anticipated potential challenges in the project.
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Nov 20, 2023

Expect

To consider obligatory or due.
They expect respect from others.
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Nov 20, 2023

Anticipate

To see as a probable occurrence; expect
We hadn't anticipated the crowds at the zoo. I anticipated that you might be in a hurry.
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Oct 19, 2023

Expect

To look forward to the probable occurrence or appearance of
Expecting a phone call.
Expects rain on Sunday.
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Oct 19, 2023

Anticipate

To think of (a future event) with pleasure; look forward to
She anticipated a pleasant hike in the country.
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Oct 19, 2023

Expect

To consider likely or certain
Expect to see them soon. See Usage Note at anticipate.
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Oct 19, 2023

Anticipate

To deal with beforehand; act so as to mitigate, nullify, or prevent
We anticipated the storm by boarding up the windows.
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Oct 19, 2023

Expect

To consider reasonable or due
We expect an apology.
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Oct 19, 2023

Anticipate

To react to (someone) abruptly, especially to prevent someone from continuing or progressing
"Immediately he regretted his words and started to add.
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Oct 19, 2023

Expect

To consider obligatory; require
The school expects its pupils to be on time.
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Oct 19, 2023

Anticipate

To act in a way that blocks or vitiates the action of (another)
"Professor Thomson had anticipated me and had obtained many patents on this principle" (Nikola Tesla).
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Oct 19, 2023

Expect

(Informal) To presume; suppose.
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Oct 19, 2023

Anticipate

To serve as a forerunner to or previous indication of
Her research in the previous decade anticipated these findings.
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Oct 19, 2023

Expect

To be pregnant. Used in progressive tenses
My wife is expecting again.
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Oct 19, 2023

Anticipate

To use in advance, as income not yet available.
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Expect

(ambitransitive) To predict or believe that something will happen
I expect to be able to walk again after getting over my broken leg.
He never expected to be discovered.
We ended up waiting a little longer than we had expected
The doctor said he expected me to make a full recovery.
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Anticipate

To pay (a debt) before it is due.
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Oct 19, 2023

Expect

To consider obligatory or required.
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Oct 19, 2023

Anticipate

To think, speak, or write about a matter in advance.
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Oct 19, 2023

Expect

To consider reasonably due.
You are expected to get the task done by the end of next week.
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Oct 19, 2023

Anticipate

(transitive) To act before (someone), especially to prevent an action.
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Oct 19, 2023

Expect

(continuous aspect only, of a woman or couple) To be pregnant, to consider a baby due.
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Oct 19, 2023

Anticipate

To take up or introduce (something) prematurely.
The advocate plans to anticipate a part of her argument.
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Oct 19, 2023

Expect

To wait for; to await.
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Anticipate

To know of (something) before it happens; to expect.
To anticipate the pleasures of a visit
To anticipate the evils of life
Please anticipate a journey of an hour from your house to the airport
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Expect

To wait; to stay.
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Anticipate

To eagerly wait for (something)
Little Johnny started to anticipate the arrival of Santa Claus a week before Christmas.
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Oct 19, 2023

Expect

To wait for; to await.
Let's in, and there expect their coming.
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Oct 19, 2023

Anticipate

To be before in doing; to do or take before another; to preclude or prevent by prior action.
To anticipate and prevent the duke's purpose.
He would probably have died by the hand of the executioner, if indeed the executioner had not been anticipated by the populace.
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Oct 19, 2023

Expect

To look for (mentally); to look forward to, as to something that is believed to be about to happen or come; to have a previous apprehension of, whether of good or evil; to look for with some confidence; to anticipate; - often followed by an infinitive, sometimes by a clause (with, or without, that); as, I expect to receive wages; I expect that the troops will be defeated.
The Somersetshire or yellow regiment . . . was expected to arrive on the following day.
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Oct 19, 2023

Anticipate

To take up or introduce beforehand, or before the proper or normal time; to cause to occur earlier or prematurely; as, the advocate has anticipated a part of his argument.
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Oct 19, 2023

Expect

To wait; to stay.
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Oct 19, 2023

Anticipate

To foresee (a wish, command, etc.) and do beforehand that which will be desired.
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Oct 19, 2023

Expect

Expectation.
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Anticipate

To foretaste or foresee; to have a previous view or impression of; as, to anticipate the pleasures of a visit; to anticipate the evils of life.
Good with badExpect to hear; supernal grace contendingWith sinfulness of men.
I would not anticipate the relish of any happiness, nor feel the weight of any misery, before it actually arrives.
Timid men were anticipating another civil war.
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Oct 19, 2023

Expect

Regard something as probable or likely;
The meteorologists are expecting rain for tomorrow
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Oct 19, 2023

Anticipate

Regard something as probable or likely;
The meteorologists are expecting rain for tomorrow
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Oct 19, 2023

Expect

Consider obligatory; request and expect;
We require our secretary to be on time
Aren't we asking too much of these children?
I expect my students to arrive in time for their lessons
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Oct 19, 2023

Anticipate

Act in advance of; deal with ahead of time
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Oct 19, 2023

Expect

Look forward to the probable occurrence of;
We were expecting a visit from our relatives
She is looking to a promotion
He is waiting to be drafted
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Anticipate

Realize beforehand
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Expect

Consider reasonable or due;
I'm expecting a full explanation as to why these files were destroyed
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Anticipate

Make a prediction about; tell in advance;
Call the outcome of an election
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Expect

Be pregnant with;
She is bearing his child
The are expecting another child in January
I am carrying his child
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Anticipate

Be excited or anxious about
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Expect

Look forward to the birth of a child;
She is expecting in March
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Oct 19, 2023

Anticipate

Be a forerunner of or occur earlier than;
This composition anticipates Impressionism
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Oct 19, 2023

Anticipate

To act in preparation for something.
He anticipated the question with a detailed answer.
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Nov 20, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

Is expecting always about something positive?

No, expecting can refer to both positive and negative outcomes.
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Nov 20, 2023

Is expecting more about attitude than action?

Yes, expecting is often more about one's mindset or belief.
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Nov 20, 2023

Does anticipation require experience?

Experience can enhance anticipation, but it's not always necessary.
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Nov 20, 2023

Is anticipation always conscious?

Not always. Some forms of anticipation can be subconscious.
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Can you anticipate something without expecting it?

Yes, you can anticipate (prepare for) scenarios that you may not necessarily expect (believe will happen).
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Nov 20, 2023

Can we anticipate without knowing specifics?

Yes, general anticipation can occur without knowing specific details.
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Is anticipation always followed by action?

Generally, yes. Anticipation usually involves some form of preparation or action.
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Nov 20, 2023

Can expectations change over time?

Yes, expectations can evolve with new information or circumstances.
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Nov 20, 2023

Is anticipation a skill?

Yes, anticipation can be seen as a skill, especially in contexts like business or sports.
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Nov 20, 2023

Does culture influence what we expect?

Yes, cultural norms and values can shape expectations.
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Nov 20, 2023

Can animals anticipate or expect?

Animals can show behaviors indicating basic forms of anticipation or expectation.
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Nov 20, 2023

Do expectations always lead to disappointment?

Not always, but unmet expectations can sometimes lead to disappointment.
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Nov 20, 2023

Are expectations important for goal setting?

Yes, setting realistic expectations is crucial in goal setting and planning.
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Nov 20, 2023

Can technology help in anticipation?

Yes, technology can assist in predicting and preparing for future events.
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Nov 20, 2023

Can anticipation reduce stress?

Yes, by preparing in advance, anticipation can reduce stress.
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Is it possible to over-anticipate?

Yes, over-anticipating can lead to unnecessary worry or over-preparation.
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Nov 20, 2023

Do expectations affect relationships?

Yes, expectations can significantly impact interpersonal relationships.
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Can anticipation be taught?

Yes, skills related to anticipation can be developed and taught.
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Nov 20, 2023

Are expectations always based on reality?

Expectations are not always realistic; they can be influenced by hopes or fears.
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Is it possible to expect without reasoning?

Yes, some expectations can be intuitive or based on feelings rather than logic.
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Nov 20, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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