Difference Wiki

Expectation vs. Hope: What's the Difference?

By Janet White || Updated on November 28, 2023
Expectation is a belief that something will or should happen, while hope is a desire for a certain thing to happen, often without certainty.

Key Differences

Expectation involves a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future, often based on evidence or experience. Hope, in contrast, is more about desiring a specific outcome, typically without a basis of certainty or proof.
Expectations are often linked to known facts or predictable patterns, creating a sense of anticipation about a likely outcome. Hope, however, leans more towards optimism, wishing for positive results, especially in uncertain situations.
In the context of personal goals, expectations are the realistic outcomes we anticipate based on our efforts and circumstances. Hope, on the other hand, represents our aspirations and desires, sometimes even in the face of challenging odds.
Expectation can sometimes lead to disappointment if the anticipated outcome is not met. Hope, while it can also lead to disappointment, is generally associated with resilience and continuing to wish for positive outcomes despite setbacks.
Expectation is often about specific and tangible outcomes, whereas hope is more abstract, embodying a general sense of positivity and the potential for good in the future.

Comparison Chart


Belief in likelihood
Desire for outcome


Often evidence-based
Generally aspirational


Specific and tangible
Abstract and optimistic


Can lead to disappointment
Inspires resilience


Realistic anticipation
Optimistic desire

Expectation and Hope Definitions


A belief that something will happen.
The expectation of rain prompted him to carry an umbrella.


A feeling of desire for a certain thing to happen.
She held onto the hope of one day traveling the world.


Anticipation of a particular outcome.
Her expectation to win the award was high due to her hard work.


A sense of trust in positive possibilities.
They looked towards the future with hope and enthusiasm.


A confident belief in future events.
His expectation of success was based on previous accomplishments.


A feeling of optimism or a desire for positive outcomes.
Despite the challenges, he never lost hope.


A forecast or prediction.
The economic expectation for the next quarter is positive growth.


A wish for something good to happen.
The hope for peace remains strong in conflict zones.


A standard or belief about what should happen.
The teacher's high expectations motivated the students to excel.


Aspiration for a positive future.
Her hope to become a doctor drove her to study diligently.


The act of expecting.


To wish for a particular event that one considers possible
We are hoping for more financial support.


Eager anticipation
Eyes shining with expectation.


(Archaic) To have confidence; trust.


The state of being expected.


To desire and consider possible
I hope that you will join us for dinner. We hope to buy a house in the spring.


Is hope always positive?

Generally, hope is positive, embodying a desire for good outcomes.

How does hope differ from expectation?

Hope is a desire for something to happen, often without surety, unlike expectation which is usually based on likelihood.

What is an expectation?

A belief or anticipation that a specific event will occur.

Can expectations be unrealistic?

Yes, sometimes expectations can be unrealistic if not based on practical or factual grounds.

Can hope be unrealistic?

Yes, hope can sometimes be unrealistic, especially if it's based more on desire than reality.

How does hope influence decision-making?

Hope can inspire more optimistic and forward-looking decisions.

Are expectations important in relationships?

Yes, they help define mutual understanding and objectives in relationships.

What happens when expectations are not met?

Unmet expectations can lead to disappointment or reassessment of beliefs.

How do expectations affect behavior?

Expectations can influence behavior by guiding actions towards anticipated outcomes.

How does culture influence hope?

Cultural values and beliefs can shape the nature and focus of hope.

Are expectations always based on personal experience?

Often, but not always. They can also be influenced by societal norms or external information.

Do expectations have a role in professional settings?

Yes, they set standards and goals in professional environments.

How do societal norms affect expectations?

Societal norms can establish common expectations within a community or group.

What role does evidence play in forming expectations?

Evidence often informs and shapes realistic expectations.

Can expectations be adjusted?

Yes, expectations can be modified based on new information or understanding.

Can hope change over time?

Yes, hope can evolve with new experiences and insights.

Can hope be harmful?

In some cases, if hope is unrealistic, it can lead to disappointment.

How does personal history influence hope?

Personal experiences can either strengthen or weaken one's sense of hope.

Is hope essential for mental health?

Hope can significantly contribute to positive mental health and resilience.

What is the role of hope in challenging situations?

Hope can provide emotional support and motivation in difficult times.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons