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noun sur·prise \sə(r)-ˈprīz\

Simple Definition of surprise

  • : an unexpected event, piece of information, etc.

  • : an unexpected gift, party, etc.

  • : the feeling caused by something that is unexpected or unusual

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of surprise

  1. 1a :  an attack made without warningb :  a taking unawares

  2. 2 :  something that surprises

  3. 3 :  the state of being surprised :  astonishment

Examples of surprise in a sentence

  1. What a pleasant surprise to see you!

  2. It's no surprise that he doesn't want to go.

  3. Is it any surprise that she should feel disappointed?

  4. The teacher sprang a surprise on us and gave a pop quiz.

  5. I have a special surprise for the children.

  6. The trip was a surprise for her birthday.

  7. Is the party a surprise?

  8. Imagine our surprise when they sold their house and moved to the Bahamas.

  9. He stared at her in surprise.

Variants of surprise

also surprize play \sə(r)-ˈprīz\

Origin of surprise

Middle English suppryse exaction, seizure, from Anglo-French sousprise, supprise, from feminine of supris, surpris, suspris, past participle of surprendre & susprendre to capture, take by surprise, from sur- & sus-, suz under + prendre to take — more at prize, sous

First Known Use: 15th century



verb, sur·prise

Simple Definition of surprise

  • : to cause (someone) to feel surprised

  • : to find, attack, or meet (someone or something) unexpectedly

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of surprise

surprised also surprizedsurprising also surprizing

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to attack unexpectedly; also :  to capture by an unexpected attack

  3. 2a :  to take unawares <police surprised the burglars in the store>b :  to detect or elicit by a taking unawares <sometimes surprised a tragic shadow in her eyes — Willa Cather>

  4. 3 :  to strike with wonder or amazement especially because unexpected <his conduct surprised me>

  5. intransitive verb
  6. :  to cause astonishment or surprise <her success didn't surprise>

surpriser noun

Examples of surprise in a sentence

  1. The results will surprise you.

  2. Nothing you could say would surprise me.

  3. They surprised everyone by moving to the Bahamas.

  4. A police officer surprised the burglars.

  5. The troops were surprised by an attack from the north.

15th Century

First Known Use of surprise

15th century

Variants of surprise

also surprize

Synonym Discussion of surprise

surprise, astonish, astound, amaze, flabbergast mean to impress forcibly through unexpectedness. surprise stresses causing an effect through being unexpected but not necessarily unusual or novel <surprised to find them at home>. astonish implies surprising so greatly as to seem incredible <a discovery that astonished the world>. astound stresses the shock of astonishment <too astounded to respond>. amaze suggests an effect of bewilderment <amazed by the immense size of the place>. flabbergast may suggest thorough astonishment and bewilderment or dismay <flabbergasted by his angry refusal>.


geographical name Sur·prise \sər-ˈprīz\

Definition of Surprise

  1. city S cen Arizona W of Phoenix pop 117,517

SURPRISE Defined for Kids



noun sur·prise \sər-ˈprīz, sə-ˈprīz\

Definition of surprise for Students

  1. 1 :  something that is unexpected <I have a surprise for you.>

  2. 2 :  astonishment, amazement <… it held up to them a little white object. They all looked at it in surprise … — C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe>

  3. 3 :  an act or instance of coming upon without warning <They were taken by surprise.>



verb sur·prise

Definition of surprise for Students


  1. 1 :  to cause to feel wonder or amazement because of being unexpected <Her resemblance to her father surprised me.>

  2. 2 :  to come upon without warning <The robbers were surprised by police.>

  3. 3 :  to attack without warning :  capture by an unexpected attack

Law Dictionary


noun sur·prise

Legal Definition of surprise

  1. 1 :  a condition or situation in which a party to a proceeding is unexpectedly placed without any fault or neglect of his or her own and that entitles the party to relief (as a new trial)

  2. 2 :  an aspect of procedural unconscionability that consists of hiding a term of a contract in a mass of text

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