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sur·​plice ˈsər-pləs How to pronounce surplice (audio)
: a loose white outer ecclesiastical vestment usually of knee length with large open sleeves


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: having a diagonally overlapping neckline or closing
a surplice collar
surplice sweaters

Examples of surplice in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
The choristers stand in their stalls wearing white surplices over red cassocks and white ruffs. Peter Ross, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 Apr. 2023 This sleeveless maxi dress offers a figure-flattering silhouette with a surplice neckline and defined waistline; and features that unmistakable retro print that's reminiscent of Klum's look. Jennifer Chan,, 12 Apr. 2022 Flattering details like its surplice neckline, subtle front slit, and fluttery sleeves and hemline elevate its simple style, meaning it can be worn for casual day trips and dressed up for a dinner show. Emily Belfiore, Travel + Leisure, 15 Mar. 2022 The size-inclusive, curve-friendly stunner features spandex to hug your curves comfortably, along with beautiful ruching details, a surplice neckline, and elegant long sleeves for extra warmth for chilly evenings. Jennifer Chan,, 26 Oct. 2021 Why does the judge don his robe, the priest his surplice, the scholar his gown, the barrister his wig, the queen her crown? Michael Knox Beran, National Review, 6 Feb. 2020 Camarón, in his day, had a similarly surplice-shredding effect. James Parker, The Atlantic, 21 Dec. 2019 At the sound of a tap, dozens of young men clad in black cassocks and white surplices rise from kneeling positions to watch two of their brother priests begin a chant. Julia Shumway, The Seattle Times, 24 May 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'surplice.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English surplis, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin superpellicium, from super- + pellicium coat of skins, from Latin, neuter of pellicius made of skins, from pellis skin — more at fell

First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined above


circa 1897, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of surplice was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near surplice

Cite this Entry

“Surplice.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a loose white outer garment worn at church services

More from Merriam-Webster on surplice

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