sur·​plice | \ ˈsər-pləs How to pronounce surplice (audio) \

Definition of surplice

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a loose white outer ecclesiastical vestment usually of knee length with large open sleeves



Definition of surplice (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Examples of surplice in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'surplice.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of surplice


13th century, in the meaning defined above


circa 1897, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for surplice


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

Learn More About surplice

Time Traveler for surplice

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near surplice

sur place



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for surplice

Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Surplice.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on surplice Encyclopedia article about surplice


Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!