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

transitive verb

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

Example Sentences

Attendance is expected to surpass last year's record. Last quarter, sales surpassed two million. His work regularly surpasses all expectations.
Recent Examples on the Web Whatever way forward heritage bands choose, these are uncharted waters for the classic-rock genre as its major players approach or surpass 80. David Browne, Rolling Stone, 4 Dec. 2022 The Howard School is the largest high school in the county and one of 10 schools in the district where Hispanic students surpass the number of students of any other racial or ethnic group. Nicole Chavez, CNN, 3 Dec. 2022 Our confidence in the monthly snow forecast is very low, as just one substantial storm could easily surpass that amount. Matt Rogers, Washington Post, 1 Dec. 2022 These $5 lashes are surprisingly luxe for their price, giving substance to the statement that price doesn’t always equal value — for these strands far surpass their humble number. Alyssa Brascia, Peoplemag, 30 Nov. 2022 Aaron Underwood, a Long Grove resident and historian at the Long Grove Historical Society, says the bridge can support up to 5 tons , but many commercial vehicles surpass that. Kori Rumore, Chicago Tribune, 27 Nov. 2022 Should warming surpass 2 degrees Celsius — the upper limit set by the International Panel on Climate Change — that probability could soar to a 10% chance per year as soon as 2050. oregonlive, 25 Nov. 2022 Should warming surpass 2 degrees Celsius — the upper limit set by the International Panel on Climate Change — that probability could soar to a 10% chance per year as soon as 2050. Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times, 24 Nov. 2022 Runners must meet or surpass the qualifying standards on a certified marathon course (2:18:00 for men and 2:37:00 for women) or half marathon (1:03:00 for men, 1:12:00 for women). Brian Metzler, Outside Online, 17 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


Middle French surpasser, from sur- + passer to pass

First Known Use

1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of surpass was in 1555

Dictionary Entries Near surpass

Cite this Entry

“Surpass.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


sur·​pass sər-ˈpas How to pronounce surpass (audio)
: to be greater, better, or stronger than
: to go beyond the reach, powers, or capacity of
surpassable adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on surpass

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