sur·​mount | \sər-ˈmau̇nt \
surmounted; surmounting; surmounts

Definition of surmount 

transitive verb

1 obsolete : to surpass in quality or attainment : excel

2 : to prevail over : overcome surmount an obstacle

3 : to get to the top of : climb

4 : to stand or lie at the top of

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Other Words from surmount

surmountable \ sər-​ˈmau̇n-​tə-​bəl \ adjective

Did You Know?

Our verb mount, meaning "ascend, get up onto", comes from the same Latin root as mountain, and we keep those images in mind when using surmount, since climbing up or over a mountain is a symbol of achievement. The word almost always refers to human effort, and almost always in a positive way; thus, we speak of surmounting difficulties, surmounting problems, surmounting hurdles, surmounting handicaps—you get the idea.

Examples of surmount in a Sentence

an Olympic swimmer who surmounted endless obstacles to achieve her goals

Recent Examples on the Web

But the immediate hill to surmount was singing opposite a character named Calogero, played by Adam Kaplan, and based on a younger version of himself. New York Times, "Chazz Palminteri Is Singing. Sonny Would Tell You to Listen.," 25 May 2018 While living in South Africa, Stebin Horne, the founder of this Georgia company, designed an ingenious wood-burner ($499) consisting of a countertop-high metal fire pit surmounted by a vertical pole on which swivel a series of grates and planchas. Steven Raichlen, New York Times, "Cooking Over Wood: A Guide to the Grills," 29 June 2018 Throughout his career, Johnson has managed to surmount the sort of gaffes that have brought other politicians down. Gregory Katz, The Seattle Times, "Out as UK foreign secretary: One more twist in Boris saga," 9 July 2018 Acquiring PillPack’s networks helps Amazon surmount those hurdles. Robert Langreth And Zachary Tracer,, "Amazon makes $1 billion splash into health care with PillPack pact," 28 June 2018 Such is the power of Cassel’s performance that this sequence surmounts camp. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, "'Gauguin: Voyage to Tahiti' chronicles Gauguin’s desire to see a new way," 13 July 2018 This means surmounting significant language barriers in a region with many dialects. Max Bearak, Washington Post, "WHO says Ebola outbreak in Congo is not yet a global health emergency," 18 May 2018 Los Angeles Times Unable to surmount the near-impenetrable barriers of Southern California's freeway system, mountain lions and other wildlife are left to mate with their own offspring. Shelby Grad,, "Essential California: For a diverse LAPD, there's praise, criticism and pressure," 17 May 2018 An optimist may start to see these technical limitations as opportunities, the flaws as charming characteristics, the dubious reliability as a challenge to surmount. Chris Wilkinson, Ars Technica, "1990, meet 2018: How far does 20MHz of Macintosh IIsi power go today?," 1 July 2018

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

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First Known Use of surmount

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for surmount

Middle English, from Anglo-French surmunter, from sur- + munter to mount

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Statistics for surmount

Last Updated

8 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for surmount

The first known use of surmount was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for surmount



English Language Learners Definition of surmount

: to deal with (a problem or a difficult situation) successfully

: to be placed at the top of (something)


sur·​mount | \sər-ˈmau̇nt \
surmounted; surmounting

Kids Definition of surmount

1 : overcome sense 1 He'll have to surmount difficulties to win.

2 : to get to the top of

3 : to be at the top of A castle surmounts the cliff.

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Comments on surmount

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by force of circumstances

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