variants: also surprize

Synonyms of surprise

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 something that makes a strong impression because it is so unexpected
  • the anniversary party was such a complete surprise that the couple was speechless for a moment

Synonyms for surprise

Words Related to surprise

Phrases Synonymous with surprise

2 the state of being strongly impressed by something unexpected or unusual
  • stared in utter surprise at the deer in his cabin

Synonyms for surprise

Words Related to surprise

3 a setup in which hidden attackers lie in wait
  • waited under cover of darkness and took the enemy encampment by surprise at dawn

Synonyms for surprise

Words Related to surprise


variants: also surprize

Synonyms of surprise (Entry 2 of 2)

1 to make a strong impression on (someone) with something unexpected
  • I was very surprised when my parents offered to pay the down payment on our house

Synonyms for surprise

Words Related to surprise

Phrases Synonymous with surprise

2 to lie in wait for and attack by surprise
  • FBI agents surprised the counterfeiters in their own base of operations

Synonyms for surprise

Words Related to surprise

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About surprise

How does the verb surprise contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of surprise are amaze, astonish, astound, and flabbergast. While all these words 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

Where would amaze be a reasonable alternative to surprise?

The meanings of amaze and surprise largely overlap; however, amaze suggests an effect of bewilderment.

amazed by the immense size of the place

When is it sensible to use astonish instead of surprise?

While the synonyms astonish and surprise are close in meaning, astonish implies surprising so greatly as to seem incredible.

a discovery that astonished the world

When is astound a more appropriate choice than surprise?

The words astound and surprise are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, astound stresses the shock of astonishment.

too astounded to respond

When might flabbergast be a better fit than surprise?

In some situations, the words flabbergast and surprise are roughly equivalent. However, flabbergast may suggest thorough astonishment and bewilderment or dismay.

flabbergasted by his angry refusal

Learn More About surprise

Time Traveler for surprise

Time Traveler

The first known use of surprise was in the 15th century

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Thesaurus Entries Near surprise




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Cite this Entry

“Surprise.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on surprise

Nglish: Translation of surprise for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of surprise for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about surprise


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