sur·​pass | \ sər-ˈpas How to pronounce surpass (audio) \
surpassed; surpassing; surpasses

Definition of surpass

transitive verb

1 : to become better, greater, or stronger than : exceed surpassed her rivals surpassed all expectations
2 : to go beyond : overstep
3 : to transcend the reach, capacity, or powers of a beauty that surpasses description

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Other Words from surpass

surpassable \ sər-​ˈpa-​sə-​bəl How to pronounce surpassable (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for surpass

exceed, surpass, transcend, excel, outdo, outstrip mean to go or be beyond a stated or implied limit, measure, or degree. exceed implies going beyond a limit set by authority or established by custom or by prior achievement. exceed the speed limit surpass suggests superiority in quality, merit, or skill. the book surpassed our expectations transcend implies a rising or extending notably above or beyond ordinary limits. transcended the values of their culture excel implies preeminence in achievement or quality and may suggest superiority to all others. excels in mathematics outdo applies to a bettering or exceeding what has been done before. outdid herself this time outstrip suggests surpassing in a race or competition. outstripped other firms in sales

Examples of surpass in a Sentence

Attendance is expected to surpass last year's record. Last quarter, sales surpassed two million. His work regularly surpasses all expectations.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Holding more than 811,000 prisoners, Brazil has the world’s third-largest inmate population, surpassed only by the United States and China. Ernesto Londoño, New York Times, "Prison Riot Leaves 52 Dead in Northern Brazil," 29 July 2019 His love of Doctor Who was only surpassed by his love of not wearing pants at home. Minyvonne Burke, NBC News, "Daughters' funny obit honors dad 'who died in his recliner as he had threatened to'," 27 July 2019 Portrush’s quality was surpassed only by the passion of the fans all week, who sold out an Open Championship for the first time in its 150-plus year history. Daniel Rapaport,, "2019 British Open Parting Thoughts: Lowry’s Victory, Koepka Makes History and More," 21 July 2019 Ebola control The current Ebola outbreak is the second largest on record (surpassed only by the 2014 West African outbreak that sickened more than 28,000, killing 11,000). Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Measles is killing more people in the DRC than Ebola—and faster," 15 July 2019 Gordon left a lasting legacy, but his performance on the track may be surpassed by the impact he's made on the lives of children through the Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation. Akeem Glaspie, Indianapolis Star, "Jeff Gordon named recipient of Indiana Sports Corp’s 2019 Pathfinder Award," 11 July 2019 The American league’s average annual salary of $27,100 has already been surpassed by the wages in France ($49,800), Germany ($43,700) and England ($35,400), according to Sporting Intelligence, a sports website (see chart). J.t., The Economist, "America’s victorious World Cup team may be its best ever," 8 July 2019 It was quickly surpassed on the river by Cincinnati, which had a different origin story. Polly Campbell,, "In 'The Pioneers,' historian McCullough finds heroes in Ohio history," 1 July 2019 Americans spent more than $72 billion on their pets last year, with Chewy’s 31% of U.S. online sales surpassed only by Inc., "Chewy raises $1 billion in IPO, and stock soars in trading debut," 14 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'surpass.' 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 surpass

1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for surpass

Middle French surpasser, from sur- + passer to pass

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Statistics for surpass

Last Updated

5 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for surpass

The first known use of surpass was in 1555

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More Definitions for surpass



English Language Learners Definition of surpass

: to be better or greater than (someone or something)


sur·​pass | \ sər-ˈpas How to pronounce surpass (audio) \
surpassed; surpassing

Kids Definition of surpass

1 : to be greater, better, or stronger than : exceed “You will find that the conditions at a fair will surpass your wildest dreams.”— E. B. White, Charlotte's Web
2 : to go beyond the reach or powers of The task surpassed their strength.

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More from Merriam-Webster on surpass

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with surpass

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for surpass

Spanish Central: Translation of surpass

Nglish: Translation of surpass for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of surpass for Arabic Speakers

Comments on surpass

What made you want to look up surpass? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a period when something is suspended

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