expect the unexpected


      • prepare for surprises
        Advise to be prepared for unforeseen events or circumstances, as they are likely to occur

    Examples of expect the unexpected

    • The meteorologist predicted a sunny day, but suddenly a thunderstorm came out of nowhere. We had to expect the unexpected and quickly find shelter.

      This idiom is used when something unexpected and unexpectedly unpleasant happens. In this example, the weather forecast was accurate, but a sudden and unexpected thunderstorm disrupted the day's plans.

    • I thought it was just a small family gathering, but my grandma surprised us with a big party and a live band. We truly had to expect the unexpected.

      This idiom is also used when something pleasant and unpredictable happens. In this case, the narrator expected a simple family event but was pleasantly surprised by a larger scale party with live music.

    • During the presentation, the manager announced that the company would undergo major changes. We all had to expect the unexpected and adapt to the new situation as soon as possible.

      This idiom is used when a significant and unanticipated event takes place. In this example, the unexpected changes in the company caught everyone off guard, necessitating immediate adjustment.

    • When I returned home, I found a note from my roommate saying she'd withdrawn from the lease and was moving out in two weeks. I had no idea this was coming and had to expect the unexpected in finding a new living arrangement.

      As with the previous examples, this idiom is used when something unexpected and significant happens. In this instance, the narrator was blindsided by their roommate's abrupt decision to move out, necessitating swift action in securing new housing.

    • The tightrope walker suddenly stopped in the middle of the performance, sending the audience into a frenzy. When he finally spoke, he announced that he was retiring from the circus to become a full-time farmer. No one saw that coming!

      The idiom "expect the unexpected" is used to describe a situation where something completely unexpected happens. In this example, the audience was expecting the tightrope walker to continue his performance, but instead, he surprised them with a completely unexpected announcement.

    • All week, the weather forecast had promised sunshine and light winds. But as soon as the marathon runners stepped onto the course, the wind picked up and rain started to fall. They had to expect the unexpected and adjust their strategies accordingly.

      This example shows how the idiom can be used to describe a situation in which expected conditions suddenly change. Here, the runners were expecting good weather, but had to adapt to unexpected wind and rain.

    • The CEO announced that the company was merging with a major competitor. The news caught everyone off guard, as it was not something they had expected. In the weeks that followed, the company had to navigate a whole new set of challenges and opportunities.

      This example shows how the idiom can apply to business or other professional situations. In this case, the CEO's announcement was unexpected, and the company had to prepare for a new reality.

    • After a long and challenging day, Sarah finally arrived home, exhausted but relieved to be done with work for the night. Suddenly, the phone rang. It was her best friend, who told her that her husband had been in a car accident and was in the hospital. Sarah was taken aback, as she had not expected this news.

      This example shows how the idiom can be used to describe unexpected events in personal or social situations. Here, Sarah had not expected to receive such bad news, and had to cope with unexpected challenges as a result.


    The idiom "expect the unexpected" is used to remind someone to be ready for anything, as life is full of surprises. It can be used in various situations to caution against being too confident in one's predictions or plans, and to encourage flexibility and open-mindedness.

    It often implies a sense of unpredictability and the need to adapt to changing circumstances, and can be used as a friendly reminder to stay alert and not take anything for granted.

    Origin of "expect the unexpected"

    The origin of the idiom "expect the unexpected" can be traced back to the concept of uncertainty and the unpredictable nature of life. The idea that unexpected events can and do occur is a common theme in many cultures and has been expressed in various ways throughout history. The phrase itself likely originated as a simple yet powerful reminder to always be prepared for the unknown.

    One possible source of the idiom may be found in ancient philosophical teachings that emphasize the impermanence of life and the importance of being mentally and emotionally prepared for unexpected events. Over time, the phrase has become a popular saying in English-speaking countries, reflecting a universal truth about the nature of existence. Its enduring relevance and widespread use demonstrate its timeless wisdom and practical value in navigating the uncertainties of life.