Meaning of “expect” in the English Dictionary

"expect" in British English

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uk /ɪkˈspekt/ us /ɪkˈspekt/

expect verb (THINK)

B1 [ T ] to think or believe something will happen, or someone will arrive:

We are expecting a lot of applicants for the job.
[ + (that) ] I expect (that) you'll find it somewhere in your bedroom.
I expect (that) he'd have left anyway.
[ + to infinitive ] He didn't expect to see me.
The financial performance of the business is fully expected (= almost certain) to improve.
We were half expecting you not to come back.
(only) to be expected

normal and what usually happens:

All parents of small children get tired. It's to be expected.

More examples

  • I don't expect we'll have any more trouble from him.
  • Gosh, I didn't expect to see you here!
  • I'd expected to put weight on when I gave up smoking, but I didn't.
  • Our department expects to make five new appointments this year alone.
  • This is your captain speaking. We expect to be landing at London Heathrow in an hour's time.

expect verb (DEMAND)

B2 [ T ] to think that someone should behave in a particular way or do a particular thing:

I expect punctuality from my students.
[ + to infinitive ] Borrowers are expected to (= should) return books on time.

More examples

  • We expect these practices to cease forthwith.
  • Some people expect instant gratification.
  • You shouldn't expect others to do your work for you.
  • It annoys me that she just expects us to help.
  • The governors and the education authority expect all pupils to attend school assembly.
adjective [ before noun ] uk /ɪkˈspek.tɪd/ us /ɪkˈspek.tɪd/


The expected counter-attack never happened.

(Definition of “expect” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"expect" in American English

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us /ɪkˈspekt/

to think or believe that something will happen, or that someone will arrive:

[ T ] We are expecting about 100 people for the lecture.
[ T ] His plane is expected to land at about 7:30 this evening.
[ + to infinitive ] We expected to see her here, but I guess she decided not to come.

To expect is also to ask for something to happen because you think you have a right to ask for it:

[ T ] The boss wants me to work this weekend – that’s expecting a lot!
is expecting

If you say that a woman is expecting, you mean that she is pregnant.

noun [ U ] us /ɪkˈspek·tən·si/

There was an air of expectancy as the chairman rose to speak.
adverb [ not gradable ] us /ɪkˈspek·tənt·li/

She looked up at him expectantly.

(Definition of “expect” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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