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

Turner married the musician in a surprise Las Vegas chapel wedding on May 1 immediately following the 2019 Billboard Music Awards. Rachel Desantis, PEOPLE.com, "Sophie Turner Celebrates Her First-Ever Vogue Cover with Sweet Shout-Out from Husband Joe Jonas," 15 June 2019 In a surprise to absolutely nobody who has watched the NBA over the last five years, Green was excellent at making someone listen to him. Ben Cohen, WSJ, "Draymond Green Had to Lose Weight for the Warriors to Win," 13 June 2019 The accomplishment is no surprise given their still-heavenly vocals together. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, "'Glee' Cast Reunites for 'Shallow' Sing-Along at Piano Bar," 10 June 2019 In an even bigger surprise, the progressive Massachusetts senator, Elizabeth Warren, was tied with the president. Ana Campoy, Quartz, "Trump’s tariff threat is upending Texas politics," 7 June 2019 Film-makers realised that fans were invested in the surprise and pandered to them. J.b., The Economist, "Why spoilers are ruining storytelling," 7 June 2019 The study results are no surprise, said Alicia Buttner, director of animal behavior with the Nebraska Humane Society in Omaha. NBC News, "Dogs owners feeling long-term stress can transfer it to their dogs, science shows," 6 June 2019 The fact that attendees will be heading to Wrigley is no surprise given the fact that the Ricketts family has been active in Republican politics — well most of them, anyway. Lisa Donovan, chicagotribune.com, "The Spin: Here’s what the Cubs ownership has to say about a GOP fundraiser that will make its way toward the friendly confines," 6 June 2019 The study results are no surprise, said Alicia Buttner, director of animal behavior with the Nebraska Humane Society in Omaha. CBS News, "Dogs can feel their owner's stress, study suggests," 6 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Trip Details Itinerary Itinerary From glittering glaciers to black-sand beaches, Iceland’s wild landscapes will surprise and inspire travelers of all ages. National Geographic, "Iceland Family Journey: Geysers, Glaciers, and Fjords," 17 June 2019 Katy fought a courageous battle over the last two and a half years but her tenacity didn't surprise those of us who knew her at 60 Minutes. Jackie Strause, The Hollywood Reporter, "'60 Minutes' Producer Katherine Textor Dies at 45," 15 June 2019 The hotel’s dining offerings surprised in the best sense of the word. Sherry Stern, Orange County Register, "Great Escape: It’s always inn season at Rancho Bernardo," 14 June 2019 Lawmakers crafted the bill without him, leaving landlords surprised and frustrated. Will Parker And, WSJ, "New York Passes Overhaul of Rent Laws, Buoying Wider Movement to Tackle Housing Crunch," 14 June 2019 Trump’s choice of that location may be surprising to those who look at an election map of Florida and see Orange County colored in solid Democratic blue. Steven Lemongello, orlandosentinel.com, "Why is President Trump’s campaign coming to Orlando? It’s key to winning Florida, experts say.," 13 June 2019 The figures surprised Jonathan Teal, former owner of Gateway. USA Today, "Seniors were sold a risk-free retirement with reverse mortgages. Now they face foreclosure.," 12 June 2019 Without Sony, the show itself was a little slow — but surprise appearances from beloved actors like Reeves, Jon Bernthal, and Rob McElhenney more than made up for it. Julia Alexander, The Verge, "E3 2019: 15 best trailers from the show," 11 June 2019 The details vary, but the plot does not: one family member surprises another with the Christmas gift of a luxury car, often adorned with a cartoonishly large bow. The Economist, "Advertising may make people miserable, but it still has its uses," 6 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

20 Jun 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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