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

There are joyful surprises at the end of every cul-de-sac. Roger Showley, San Diego Union-Tribune, "250 years of San Diego," 30 June 2019 There are no surprises left and no apologies forthcoming, but the brazenness of the pair is so enthralling that few can look away. Graham Hillard, National Review, "O. J. Simpson Joins Twitter," 28 June 2019 The Nuggets released their Summer League roster on Friday afternoon, and there were few surprises. Mike Singer, The Denver Post, "Nuggets announce Summer League roster, and one big name was left off," 28 June 2019 Coyote Flaco is a delightful surprise, serving authentic, creative Mexican fare (www.coyoteflacomass.com). Pamela Wright, BostonGlobe.com, "After the show’s over, stay and explore," 27 June 2019 What was a surprise was the position of Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "Elizabeth Warren says abortion access should be a federal law. What does that mean?," 26 June 2019 That's no surprise to anyone who lives or works downtown, where tents crowd sidewalks within sight of City Hall and the stench of urine fills the air. CBS News, "Homelessness crisis spurs recall effort against Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti," 20 June 2019 For collectors of de Castellane’s jewelry, that shift toward something a bit more natural was an exciting surprise. Emily Farra, Vogue, "J’Aime Gem Dior: Victoire de Castellane Celebrates 20 Years of Dior Jewelry in Venice," 14 June 2019 The inclusion of eight different boozy shakes was a delightful menu surprise. Chuck Blount, ExpressNews.com, "52 Weeks of Burgers: Hawks Burger Bar," 14 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

As female physicians, we weren’t surprised by these findings. Quartz at Work, "Young female doctors are at high risk for burnout and “self-care” is not the answer," 27 June 2019 Even Select Sires, a company that is in the business of selling bull semen, was surprised by the findings. Maureen O’hagan, Quartz, "The way we breed cows is setting them up for extinction," 24 June 2019 Even Select Sires, a company that is in the business of selling bull semen, was surprised by the findings. Maureen O'hagan, Scientific American, "From Two Bulls, Nine Million Dairy Cows," 20 June 2019 They also weren’t surprised that the Hilltoppers (25-2) supplied an extra charge. Jace Frederick, Twin Cities, "Class 2A baseball: Duluth Marshall rallies past Minnehaha Academy for title," 20 June 2019 But after watching politics for over 45 years, I am not surprised by the false allegations and character attacks which have ensued. Lucas Aulbach, The Courier-Journal, "Jenean Hampton: Bevin's chief of staff 'overstepped his boundaries' in firing my aide," 18 June 2019 Ava isn't surprised by former prosecutor Linda Fairstein's response to the series. Heather Finn, Good Housekeeping, "Everything You Missed in Oprah's 'When They See Us' Interview With the Central Park 5," 14 June 2019 And then the burkini, I was surprised a lot of people don’t really know that the burkini is a swimsuit. Rebecca Shinners, Health.com, "Halima Aden Explains Why Being the First to Wear a Burkini in Sports Illustrated Swim Is so Historic," 5 June 2019 He wasn't surprised, then, to hear that Stott knows Bryce Harper through a family connection. Scott Lauber, https://www.inquirer.com, "UNLV coach describes Phillies first-round pick Bryson Stott as a polished hitter," 4 June 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

4 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

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

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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