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

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, "Young Nebraska priests’ chants become best-selling album," 24 May 2017

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

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Time Traveler for surplice

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

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English Language Learners Definition of surplice

: a loose, white piece of clothing that is worn by priests or singers at church services

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a small bunch of flowers

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