sur·​mount | \ sər-ˈmau̇nt How to pronounce surmount (audio) \
surmounted; surmounting; surmounts

Definition of surmount

transitive verb

1 : to prevail over : overcome surmount an obstacle
2 : to get to the top of : climb
3 : to stand or lie at the top of
4 obsolete : to surpass in quality or attainment : excel

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Other Words from surmount

surmountable \ sər-​ˈmau̇n-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce surmount (audio) \ 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 Biden and his allies can, of course, point to considerable obstacles that Roosevelt didn’t need to surmount, such as the Democratic Party’s slimmer margins and the fact that the president does not literally control Congress. Eleanor Eagan, The New Republic, "Trump Holdovers Are Dragging Down the Biden Agenda," 29 Apr. 2021 Indeed, because Lissa had been raised Episcopalian and was quite involved in the church during her youth, there wasn’t the typical learning curve to surmount when Alyse discussed her job. Washington Post, "Date Lab: ‘What an honor to be a part of this date with her’," 8 Apr. 2021 Still, if the cells were taken from an animal that had already been killed in a kosher way, that would likely surmount that first hurdle. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "Company on a quest for ‘kosher bacon’ raises $24 million for its lab-grown fat," 7 Apr. 2021 Of course, dozens of other states — along with Congress — have been able to surmount those barriers., "Massachusetts lawmakers are debating their transparency procedures — behind closed doors," 7 Apr. 2021 But the family has, for the most part, been able to surmount these problems. Lorraine Allen, Good Housekeeping, "Here's How Real Families Who Adopted Pandemic Pets Are Handling Things Months Later," 22 Mar. 2021 Such political obstacles, along with regulatory-approval and manufacturing delays, are proving to be difficult to surmount. Jenny Strasburg, WSJ, "EU and Italy Block Export of AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine to Australia," 4 Mar. 2021 These are just some of the obstacles a young designer has to surmount in order to achieve success on Italian shores. Tiziana Cardini, Vogue, "These Are the New Names to Know From Milan Fashion Week, Fall 2021," 3 Mar. 2021 Transportation experts say that images of Musk's system that were released last week reflect failures to surmount basic issues that subways solved long ago. Matt Mcfarland, CNN, "Here's what 'stations' for Elon Musk's The Boring Company look like," 16 Nov. 2020

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 4

History and Etymology for surmount

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

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Time Traveler for surmount

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for surmount

Last Updated

2 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Surmount.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce surmount (audio) \
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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