surprise

noun
sur·​prise | \ sər-ˈprīz, 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 \

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

Also, the honeymoon came as a complete surprise to Chopra, according to E! Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas Are Live-Instagramming Their Honeymoon," 11 Jan. 2019 The other night Gus stated he would much rather stay home by himself playing Minecraft than see his sister perform at their school—though this should come as no surprise to anyone. Steve Brykman, Ars Technica, "Forget Fortnite—my son is still obsessed with Minecraft," 16 Dec. 2018 Last week, to nobody’s surprise, CBS complied with the zeitgest. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Hollywood vs. #MeToo and Streaming," 28 Dec. 2018 So new surprises and pictures will keep coming in throughout 2019 and 2020. Loren Grush, The Verge, "On New Year’s Day, a spacecraft will zoom by the most distant object humanity has ever visited," 27 Dec. 2018 From a possible wedding between Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus to the annual unveiling of the always memorable Kardashian-Jenner Christmas card, the 2018 holiday season was filled with surprises. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "How Celebrities Including Demi Lovato, BTS, Ariana Grande, and Kylie Jenner Spent Christmas," 26 Dec. 2018 Claire immediately offers to examine him to the surprise and amusement of the men around her. Outlander Fan, Marie Claire, "5 Biggest Takeaways From 'Outlander' Season 4 Episode 8," 24 Dec. 2018 To Wardle's surprise, results from VirusTotal at the time showed that only two antivirus providers—Kaspersky and ZoneAlarm—detected the file as malicious. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Four months after its debut, sneaky Mac malware went undetected by AV providers," 21 Dec. 2018 At the end of season 8, Blue Bloods loyalists were met with a happy surprise: Jamie Reagan (Will Estes) and his NYPD partner, Eddie Janko (Vanessa Ray) were engaged! Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "'Blue Bloods' Star Will Estes Weighs in About Jamie and Eddie's Engagement," 17 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

There are a lot of things that have surprised me about [motherhood]. Gaby Wood, Marie Claire, "Penélope Cruz Isn't Scared to Look Back," 4 Jan. 2019 On the reaction to Black Panther that surprised him most: To be honest, the whole sexualization of the M'Baku was surprising. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Black Panther Breakout Winston Duke Is Ready to Reset Hollywood," 4 Dec. 2018 Ricardo Ceppi/Getty Images In news that will surprise nobody, Defense Secretary James Mattis revealed that Russian President Vladimir Putin attempted to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections. Rachel Withers, Vox, "Mattis claims Russia attempted to “muck around” in the 2018 midterms," 2 Dec. 2018 Juan's singing isn't the only thing about him that might surprise DWTS viewers. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Dancing With the Stars' Juan Pablo Di Pace Has a Talent That No One Ever Talks About," 15 Oct. 2018 Experience and history says there’s always going to be something that will surprise you. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "Quiet Boom: Meet the NASA Test Pilot Who'll Fly the Next Supersonic X-Plane," 15 Aug. 2018 But here’s something that might surprise you: the money that Roku makes from its hardware lineup isn’t enough to sustain the company’s business. Chris Welch, The Verge, "Roku is in the ad business, not the hardware business, says CEO," 20 July 2018 Pro Football Focus says the Dolphins are one of five teams that could surprise for a playoff berth. Dave Hyde, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Hyde5: Here's five reasons to feel better about the Miami Dolphins in July," 13 July 2018 The only specific SurveyMonkey finding that surprised me is that Marsha Blackburn has a big lead over Phil Bredesen in Tennessee. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "How to Interpret 2018 Polls Without Fooling Yourself," 10 July 2018

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

17 Jan 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, 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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