Definition of surmount
- surmount an obstacle
an Olympic swimmer who surmounted endless obstacles to achieve her goals
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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.
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
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