surprise

noun
sur·​prise | \ sər-ˈprīz How to pronounce surprise (audio) , sə-\
variants: or less commonly surprize

Definition of surprise

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : an attack made without warning
b : a taking unawares
2 : something that surprises
3 : the feeling caused by something unexpected or unusual

surprise

verb
variants: or less commonly surprize
surprised also surprized; surprising also surprizing

Definition of surprise (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to attack unexpectedly also : to capture by an unexpected attack
2a : to take unawares Police surprised the burglars in the store.
b : to detect or elicit by a taking unawares … sometimes surprised a tragic shadow in her eyes.— Willa Cather
3 : to strike with wonder or amazement especially because unexpected His conduct surprised me.

intransitive verb

: to cause astonishment or surprise Her success didn't surprise.

Surprise

geographical name
Sur·​prise | \ sər-ˈprīz How to pronounce Surprise (audio) \

Definition of Surprise (Entry 3 of 3)

city in south central Arizona west of Phoenix population 117,517

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Other Words from surprise

Verb

surpriser noun

Choose the Right Synonym for surprise

Verb

surprise, astonish, astound, amaze, flabbergast mean to impress forcibly through unexpectedness. surprise stresses causing an effect through being unexpected but not necessarily unusual or novel. surprised to find them at home astonish implies surprising so greatly as to seem incredible. a discovery that astonished the world astound stresses the shock of astonishment. too astounded to respond amaze suggests an effect of bewilderment. amazed by the immense size of the place flabbergast may suggest thorough astonishment and bewilderment or dismay. flabbergasted by his angry refusal

Verb

surprise, astonish, and amaze mean to impress forcibly by being unexpected, startling, or unusual. surprise is used when something is unexpected even though it by itself is not startling. A sudden storm surprised the hikers. astonish means to surprise very much with something that is hard or impossible to believe. The first airplanes astonished people. amaze is used when something causes a person to wonder and puzzle over it. The magician amazed the children.

Examples of surprise in a Sentence

Noun What a pleasant surprise to see you! It's no surprise that he doesn't want to go. Is it any surprise that she should feel disappointed? The teacher sprang a surprise on us and gave a pop quiz. I have a special surprise for the children. The trip was a surprise for her birthday. Is the party a surprise? Imagine our surprise when they sold their house and moved to the Bahamas. He stared at her in surprise. Verb The results will surprise you. Nothing you could say would surprise me. They surprised everyone by moving to the Bahamas. A police officer surprised the burglars. The troops were surprised by an attack from the north.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The size of the potential profit hit clearly took investors by surprise. Washington Post, "Holiday Giant Pays a Price for Grounded 737 Max," 18 Sep. 2019 This time, however, Fisher and other scientists say they won’t be taken by surprise. Warren Cornwall, Science | AAAS, "Is ‘The Blob’ back? New marine heat wave threatens Pacific," 17 Sep. 2019 There is one element that has caught even those who know him by surprise. New York Times, "João Félix Is in a Hurry. So Is Everyone Else.," 12 Sep. 2019 The need for vetting is so strong that the demand caught the makers of several tools by surprise. Wired, "Fighting Instagram's $1.3 Billion Problem—Fake Followers," 10 Sep. 2019 The Cardinals infielder took the Giants by surprise by dropping a bunt in between the pitcher’s mound and first base. Kerry Crowley, The Mercury News, "Tony Watson lays out ‘like a 34-year-old dad,’ updates status after X-Ray," 5 Sep. 2019 The popular Montrose patio bar Present Company has drawn eyes for its creative cocktails in the past, but a new addition to the menu might take some by surprise. Rebecca Hennes, Houston Chronicle, "Popular Montrose bar now serving CBD-infused cocktails," 5 Sep. 2019 This sudden rise has caught authorities by surprise. The Economist, "Afghan drug barons are branching out into methamphetamines," 5 Sep. 2019 The dramatic rise in fentanyl deaths has caught many by surprise. Matt Mccarthy, USA TODAY, "Ben Westhoff's 'Fentanyl, Inc.' confronts horrible truths about America's opioid epidemic," 2 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb News of a tour may not surprise some fans, as Murphy was rumored to have been in negotiations with Netflix for upward of $70 million to do a series of stand-up specials. Rachel Yang, EW.com, "Eddie Murphy says he's going on a stand-up tour in 2020," 6 Sep. 2019 The answer, as people used to say, might surprise you. Graeme Mcmillan, WIRED, "While You Were Offline: Who Wants to See Sean Spicer’s Samba?," 25 Aug. 2019 That doesn’t surprise me because there is no cause. Danielle Lerner, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville fires veteran men's tennis coach Rex Ecarma after independent investigation," 16 Aug. 2019 We're not surprised that Magnolia has us prepped with products for pretty much every single part of our homes. Megan Uy, House Beautiful, "Joanna Gaines Just Released Magnolia Market's Fall Collection, and We Want Everything," 12 Aug. 2019 After the way every possible permutation of this topic has been bandied about for the past month — such is the NBA silly season — the answers should not surprise anyone. Nick Talbot, ExpressNews.com, "Writers’ Roundtable: Are the Spurs still a playoff team after this offseason?," 20 July 2019 Yelich said he was not surprised that the team has continued to win without him. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Christian Yelich's kneecap is broken but not his spirit as he prepares to cheer on the Brewers," 16 Sep. 2019 Most important, drivers look out for cyclists, cede the right of way, and are rarely surprised by them. Dan Kois, The New Yorker, "How I Learned to Cycle Like a Dutchman," 13 Sep. 2019 Vazquez said he was not surprised that Arizona pays above the national average. Andrew Howard, azcentral, "Here's why it costs more to own a car in 2019, according to AAA study," 12 Sep. 2019

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

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for surprise

Noun

Middle English suppryse exaction, seizure, from Anglo-French sousprise, supprise, from feminine of supris, surpris, suspris, past participle of surprendre & susprendre to capture, take by surprise, from sur- & sus-, suz under + prendre to take — more at prize, sous

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Statistics for surprise

Last Updated

24 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for surprise

The first known use of surprise was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for surprise

surprise

noun
How to pronounce Surprise (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of surprise

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an unexpected event, piece of information, etc.
: an unexpected gift, party, etc.
: the feeling caused by something that is unexpected or unusual

surprise

verb

English Language Learners Definition of surprise (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause (someone) to feel surprised
: to find, attack, or meet (someone or something) unexpectedly

surprise

noun
sur·​prise | \ sər-ˈprīz How to pronounce surprise (audio) , sə-ˈprīz\

Kids Definition of surprise

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something that is unexpected I have a surprise for you.
2 : astonishment, amazement … it held up to them a little white object. They all looked at it in surprise— C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
3 : an act or instance of coming upon without warning They were taken by surprise.

surprise

verb
surprised; surprising

Kids Definition of surprise (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to cause to feel wonder or amazement because of being unexpected Her resemblance to her father surprised me.
2 : to come upon without warning The robbers were surprised by police.
3 : to attack without warning : capture by an unexpected attack

surprise

noun
sur·​prise

Legal Definition of surprise

1 : a condition or situation in which a party to a proceeding is unexpectedly placed without any fault or neglect of his or her own and that entitles the party to relief (as a new trial)
2 : an aspect of procedural unconscionability that consists of hiding a term of a contract in a mass of text

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Comments on surprise

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to spread as a report or rumor

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