1 of 2


sur·​feit ˈsər-fət How to pronounce surfeit (audio)
: an overabundant supply : excess
: an intemperate or immoderate indulgence in something (such as food or drink)
: disgust caused by excess


2 of 2


surfeited; surfeiting; surfeits

transitive verb

: to feed, supply, or give to surfeit

intransitive verb

archaic : to indulge to satiety in a gratification (such as indulgence of the appetite or senses)
surfeiter noun

Did you know?

There is an abundance—you could almost say a surfeit—of English words that derive from the Latin facere, meaning "to do." The connection to facere is fairly obvious for words spelled with "fic," "fac," or "fec," such as sacrifice, benefaction, and infect. For words like stupefy (a modification of Latin stupefacere) and hacienda (originally, in Old Spanish and Latin, facienda) the facere factor is not so apparent. As for surfeit, the "c" was dropped along the path that led from Latin through Anglo-French, where facere became faire and sur- was added to make the verb surfaire, meaning "to overdo." It is the Anglo-French noun surfet ("excess"), however, that Middle English borrowed, eventually settling on the spelling surfeit.

Choose the Right Synonym for surfeit

satiate, sate, surfeit, cloy, pall, glut, gorge mean to fill to repletion.

satiate and sate may sometimes imply only complete satisfaction but more often suggest repletion that has destroyed interest or desire.

years of globe-trotting had satiated their interest in travel
readers were sated with sensationalistic stories

surfeit implies a nauseating repletion.

surfeited themselves with junk food

cloy stresses the disgust or boredom resulting from such surfeiting.

sentimental pictures that cloy after a while

pall emphasizes the loss of ability to stimulate interest or appetite.

a life of leisure eventually begins to pall

glut implies excess in feeding or supplying.

a market glutted with diet books

gorge suggests glutting to the point of bursting or choking.

gorged themselves with chocolate

Example Sentences

Noun ended up with a surfeit of volunteers who simply got in each other's way Verb having surfeited ourselves on raw oysters, we had to decline the rest of the restaurant's offerings
Recent Examples on the Web
The conflict underscored the fragility of law and order in a southern region faced with a surfeit of loose firearms, private armies, crushing poverty and a long history of violence. Jim Gomez, ajc, 10 Nov. 2022 On the field, the tournament has thrilled fans with chaotic matches, upsets and a surfeit of nontraditional soccer powers reaching the knockout stage. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 5 Dec. 2022 Our current problem isn’t an insufficient amount of Black representation in literature but a surfeit of it. Ismail Muhammad, New York Times, 13 Oct. 2022 The days to come will see a surfeit of commentary and analysis of the depth of that legacy. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 8 Sep. 2022 That’s probably true even of Waltz’ protagonist and his nemesis, Dafoe’s Joe, but both actors have such a surfeit of presence and expressiveness that viewers can fill in the blanks for themselves. Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter, 6 Sep. 2022 On the other hand, a surfeit of confidence—an attitude of invincibility—has been found to prevent leaders from receiving vital feedback, resulting in biased decision-making and underperformance. Julia Boorstin, Fortune, 11 Oct. 2022 While domestic leisure air travel has almost returned to pre-pandemic levels, rising fuel and labor costs, a surfeit of cancellations and a pilot shortage, have contributed to the chaos. Michael Goldstein, Forbes, 8 Aug. 2022 Alas, the last few years have brought with them a surfeit of self-flagellation that the more grounded among the citizenry would do well to resist. The Editors, National Review, 4 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'surfeit.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History



Middle English surfet, from Anglo-French, from surfaire to overdo, from sur- + faire to do, from Latin facere — more at do

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of surfeit was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near surfeit

Cite this Entry

“Surfeit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
sur·​feit ˈsər-fət How to pronounce surfeit (audio)
: a supply that is more than enough : excess
: an enjoyment of something (as food or drink) beyond what is good or necessary
: disgust caused by excess


2 of 2 verb
: to feed, supply, or enjoy to the point of excess

More from Merriam-Webster on surfeit

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