AskDefine | Define expectation

Dictionary Definition



1 belief about (or mental picture of) the future [syn: outlook, prospect]
2 wishing with confidence of fulfillment [syn: anticipation]
3 the feeling that something is about to happen
4 the sum of the values of a random variable divided by the number of values [syn: arithmetic mean, first moment, expected value]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. The act or state of expecting or looking forward to an event as about to happen.
  2. That which is expected or looked for.
  3. The prospect of the future; grounds upon which something excellent is expected to occur; prospect of anything good to come, esp. of property or rank.
  4. The value of any chance (as the prospect of prize or property) which depends upon some contingent event.
  5. The first moment
  6. In the context of "colloquial statistics": the arithmetic mean
  7. The leaving of the disease principally to the efforts of nature to effect a cure.

Usage notes

  • sense value of any chance Expectations are computed for or against the occurrence of the event.

Related terms


act or state of expecting
  • Czech: očekávání
  • Dutch: verwachting, afwachting
  • Estonian: ootus
  • French: attente
  • German: Erwartung
  • Kurdish:
That which is expected or looked for
  • Dutch: verwachting
  • Estonian: ootus
  • Finnish: odotus
  • French: attente
  • German: Erwartung

See also

Extensive Definition

In the case of uncertainty, expectation is what is considered the most likely to happen. An expectation, which is a belief that is centred on the future, may or may not be realistic. A less advantageous result gives rise to the emotion of disappointment. If something happens that is not at all expected it is a surprise. An expectation about the behavior or performance of another person, expressed to that person, may have the nature of a strong request, or an order.
Particularly in social sciences including game theory, expectation plays one of the central roles. In game theory, a Nash equilibrium constitutes a correct and stable set of expectations held by the players. Various other solution concepts of games such as rationalizability have been proposed according to how much knowledge players have on the expectation of other players' actions.

Emotion and Adaptation

In Emotion and Adaptation (Oxford University Press, 1991), Richard Lazarus asserts that people become accustomed to positive or negative life experiences which lead to favorable or unfavorable expectations with regard to present and near-future circumstances. Lazarus notes the widely accepted, philosophical principle that "happiness depends on the background psychological status of the person -- that is, the overall pattern of expectations and existential mood -- and cannot be well predicted without reference to" one's expectations [italics mine].
Also with regard to happiness or unhappiness, Lazarus notes that "people whose objective conditions of life are those of hardship and deprivation often make a positive assessment of their well-being," while "people who are objectively well off... often make a negative assessment of their well-being." Lazarus argues that "the most sensible explanation of this apparent paradox is that people... develop favorable or unfavorable expectations" that guide such assessments.
expectation in Danish: Forventning
expectation in German: Erwartung
expectation in Spanish: Expectativa
expectation in Ido: Expekto
expectation in Italian: Aspettativa (sociologia)
expectation in Dutch: Verwachting
expectation in Norwegian: Forventning (psykologi)

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

aftertime, afteryears, anticipation, apprehension, apprehensiveness, aptitude, aspiration, assumption, assurance, assured faith, awelessness, belief, by-and-by, calmness, chance, cheerful expectation, composure, confidence, conjecture, conviction, cool, coolness, course ahead, crystal ball, demand, dependence, design, desire, determinism, distant future, doomed hope, dueness, entitledness, entitlement, eventuality, expectancy, fair expectation, fair prospect, faith, favorable prospect, fervent hope, foresight, forward look, future, future tense, futurism, futurity, good chance, good cheer, good hope, great expectations, guess, hereafter, high hopes, hope, hopeful prognosis, hopefulness, hopes, hoping, hoping against hope, immediate future, immediate prospect, imminence, inexcitability, insistence, intention, justice, justifiable expectation, liability, likelihood, likeliness, meritedness, motive, near future, nodding acceptance, nonamazedness, nonamazement, nonastonishment, nonmarveling, nonwonder, nonwondering, notion, odds, offing, outlook, posteriority, prayerful hope, prediction, presumption, presumptive evidence, probabilism, probability, project, promise, prophecy, prospect, prospects, reasonable ground, reasonable hope, reliance, requirement, sanguine expectation, security, supposition, surmise, suspense, tendency, the future, the morrow, the sweet by-and-by, time ahead, time just ahead, time to come, tomorrow, trust, unamazedness, unamazement, unastonishment, unimpressibleness, unsurprise, unsurprisedness, verisimilitude, want, watchfulness, well-grounded hope, wish, wonderlessness
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