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 reasons for such a staggering rate of extinction will come as a surprise to no one. Jill Kiedaisch, Popular Mechanics, "The Staggering Worldwide Decline of Insects Is a Warning of Ecosystem Collapse," 13 Feb. 2019 There’s no question Swan comes as a surprise, as he was reported not to have wanted the job in the first place. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Intel makes Bob Swan its permanent CEO, maintaining a slow, steady course away from the PC," 31 Jan. 2019 Getty ImagesMaria Mosolova The spicy cinnamon and clove scent of this delicate bouquet will be a pleasant surprise to your valentine. Carly Orleach, Woman's Day, "How to Make Fresh Flowers Last Longer," 15 Feb. 2019 Marc Jacobs’s Fall 2019 collection was full of surprises, but none more exciting than Turlington’s runway return. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Christy Turlington Makes a Spectacular Return to the Runway After More than 20 Years," 14 Feb. 2019 The nominations, announced by Kumail Nanjiani and Tracee Ellis Ross from the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills, California, included plenty of surprises. Jake Coyle, The Seattle Times, "Oscar nods honor ‘Roma,’ ‘The Favourite,’ ‘Black Panther’," 23 Jan. 2019 And so on… The real joy in Subnautica isn’t just in creating a sustainable habitat, though that technology curve is enormous and full of surprises all on its own. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Ars Technica’s best games of 2018," 24 Dec. 2018 As always, the Singita experience was full of surprises—whether a magical open-fire meal of traditional stews and meats or a more delicate avocado soup with cucumber and mint in the restaurant. Pilar Guzmán, Condé Nast Traveler, "South Africa’s Other Big Five," 20 Dec. 2018 Since launching Fenty Beauty in 2017, Rihanna has used the element of surprise as her number-one business strategy. Tess Garcia, Teen Vogue, "Rihanna Is Signing 20 Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter Palettes," 15 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

From her white blonde transformation, to her silver tint, to her enviable bubblegum pink shade, Kim continues to surprise fans with her hair choices. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kim Kardashian Just Debuted Cherry Red Hair & It Looks Stunning," 24 Feb. 2019 Allow Chef Eddy to surprise and tantalize you with his culinary creations. Hannah Seligson, Town & Country, "The Best Room At... Winvian Farm," 19 Feb. 2019 Mark Wilson/Getty Images President Donald Trump on Wednesday ordered the complete withdrawal of America’s 2,000 troops in Syria — a decision that seemed to surprise everyone, including his own administration. Alex Ward, Vox, "No one knows what’s happening with Trump’s Syria decision," 20 Dec. 2018 The 82nd airborne is the kind of unit that would jump behind enemy lines to surprise the opposition and seize ground ahead of other American forces. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "U.S. Paratroopers Are Training to Jump With Surface-To-Air Missiles," 14 Aug. 2018 Skeptical, Colbert was pleasantly surprised by the acting legend’s swift response. Lauren Sanchez, Vogue, "Meryl Streep Gets Candid Over Cocktails With Stephen Colbert at the Montclair Film Fundraiser," 3 Dec. 2018 And despite having eight nominations and two wins to her name, Mullally was surprised by the Thursday morning honor. Jackie Strause, The Hollywood Reporter, "Emmys: Megan Mullally Disappointed in 'Will and Grace' Comedy Series Snub," 12 July 2018 Jarrett surprised the crowd by predicting her party would nominate Patrick. Gabriel Debenedetti, Daily Intelligencer, "Where Is Barack Obama?," 24 June 2018 She was not surprised the three women realized their dreams. Dennis Hohenberger, Courant Community, "Windsor Trio Sets Sights On Higher Ed, High Fashion," 19 June 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

14 Mar 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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