sur·​pris·​ing | \ sər-ˈprī-ziŋ How to pronounce surprising (audio) , sə-\

Definition of surprising

: of a nature that excites surprise

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Examples of surprising in a Sentence

It's not surprising that he doesn't want to go. The changes to the campus were surprising. He shows a surprising lack of concern for others. A surprising number of people were laid off at the factory.
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Recent Examples on the Web

This was surprising, because the liver is known to have great regenerative powers. San Diego Union-Tribune, "How old are your organs? Salk, UCSD mouse study finds human clues," 6 June 2019 The entire spot is incredibly serious, which is surprising, as Reynolds is known for being a humorous guy. Hannah Chubb,, "Ryan Reynolds and Fyre Festival’s Andy King Team Up for Hilarious New Aviation Gin Commercial," 5 June 2019 This shouldn’t be surprising, given the ingredients in hair products, including formaldehyde (known carcinogen), toluene (neurological and developmental toxicant), sodium hydroxide (lye), and triphenyl phosphate (suspected endocrine disruptor). Longreads, "True Roots," 5 June 2019 Encountering somebody with a harsh word for Elton John or Bruce Springsteen is rare enough to be surprising; the same was true before their deaths of David Bowie and Prince. D.b., The Economist, "With “My Songs” Sting underlines the lasting quality of his music," 4 June 2019 Normally, this would hardly be surprising, considering how well-known and deeply rooted Mr. Biden... Gerald F. Seib, WSJ, "What Joe Biden Is Revealing About Democrats," 3 June 2019 Tonight's series finale of Game of Thrones was surprising, to say the least. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Emilia Clarke Cried When She Read the Game of Thrones Series Finale Script," 20 May 2019 The numbers were all the more surprising because a strong report on U.S. hiring this month suggested that household income is robust and would support continued consumer spending. Harriet Torry, WSJ, "Retail Sales Declined in December at Fastest Pace Since 2009," 14 Feb. 2019 But last night at the Critics' Choice Awards, Gaga took a surprising turn from ~daring~ glam, going with a minimalistic, classic look. Maya Allen, Marie Claire, "Why Lady Gaga's Beauty Look at the 2019 Critics' Choice Awards Was So Surprising," 14 Jan. 2019

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

1614, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for surprising

Last Updated

9 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for surprising

The first known use of surprising was in 1614

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More Definitions for surprising



English Language Learners Definition of surprising

: unexpected or unusual : causing surprise


sur·​pris·​ing | \ sər-ˈprī-ziŋ, sə-ˈprī-ziŋ\

Kids Definition of surprising

: causing astonishment : unexpected Although some things were always the same with Abuelita … others were surprising— Pam Muñoz Ryan, Esperanza Rising

Other Words from surprising

surprisingly adverb He is a surprisingly good singer.

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Comments on surprising

What made you want to look up surprising? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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