What does surprise mean?

Definitions for surprise
sərˈpraɪz, sə-sur·prise

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word surprise.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. surprisenoun

    the astonishment you feel when something totally unexpected happens to you

  2. surprisenoun

    a sudden unexpected event

  3. surprise, surprisalverb

    the act of surprising someone

  4. surpriseverb

    cause to be surprised

    "The news really surprised me"

  5. surpriseverb

    come upon or take unawares

    "She surprised the couple"; "He surprised an interesting scene"

  6. storm, surpriseverb

    attack by storm; attack suddenly


  1. surprisenoun

    Something not expected.

    It was a surprise to find out I owed twice as much as I thought I did.

  2. surprisenoun


    The surprise attack was devastating.

  3. surprisenoun

    The feeling that something unexpected has happened.

    Imagine my surprise on learning I owed twice as much as I thought I did.

  4. surpriseverb

    To cause (someone) to feel unusually alarmed or delighted.

    It surprises me that I owe twice as much as I thought I did.

  5. surpriseverb

    To do something to (a person) that they are not expecting, as a surprise.

    He doesn't know that I'm in the country - I thought I'd turn up at his house and surprise him.

  6. surpriseverb

    To undergo or witness something unexpected.

    He doesn't surprise easily.

  7. surpriseverb

    To cause surprise.

  8. surpriseverb

    To attack unexpectedly.

  9. surpriseverb

    To take unawares.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Surprisal, Surprisenoun

    Etymology: surprise, French; from the verb.

    Parents should mark heedfully the witty excuses of their children, especially at suddains and surprisals; but rather mark than pamper them Henry Wotton.

    This let him know,
    Lest, wilfully transgressing, he pretend
    Suprisal, unadmonish’d, unforewarn’d. John Milton, Par. Lost.

    I set aside the taking of St. Jago and St. Domingo in Hispaniola, as surprizes rather than encounters. Francis Bacon.

    This strange surprisal put the knight
    And wrathful squire into a fright. Hudibras.

    There is a vast difference between them, as vast as between inadvertency and deliberation, between surprize and set purpose. South.

    Few care for carving trifles in disguise,
    Or that fantastick dish some call surprise. William King, Cookery.

  2. To SURPRISEverb

    Etymology: surpris, French, from surprendre.

    The castle of Macduff I will surprise,
    Seize upon Fife, give to the edge o’th’sword
    His wife, his babes. William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

    Now do our ears before our eyes,
    Like men in mists,
    Discover who’d the state surprize,
    And who resists. Ben Jonson.

    Bid her well beware,
    Lest, by some fair appearing good surpris’d,
    She dictate false, and misinform the will. John Milton.

    How shall he keep, what, sleeping or awake,
    A weaker may surprise, a stronger take? Alexander Pope.

    Who can speak
    The mingled passions that surpriz’d his heart! James Thomson.

    People were not so much frighted as surprized at the bigness of the camel. Roger L'Estrange.

    Up he starts, discover’d and surpris’d. John Milton.


  1. surprise

    Surprise is a sudden unexpected event, fact, or thing that causes a strong emotional response, such as shock, disbelief, excitement or awe. It is an abrupt or startling change from an anticipated outcome or situation, often leading to a brief moment of disorientation or confusion. Surprise can also refer to the feeling experienced upon discovery of something new or unknown.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Surprisenoun

    the act of coming upon, or taking, unawares; the act of seizing unexpectedly; surprisal; as, the fort was taken by surprise

  2. Surprisenoun

    the state of being surprised, or taken unawares, by some act or event which could not reasonably be foreseen; emotion excited by what is sudden and strange; a suddenly excited feeling of wonder or astonishment

  3. Surprisenoun

    anything that causes such a state or emotion

  4. Surprisenoun

    a dish covered with a crust of raised paste, but with no other contents

  5. Surprisenoun

    to come or fall suddenly and unexpectedly; to take unawares; to seize or capture by unexpected attack

  6. Surprisenoun

    to strike with wonder, astonishment, or confusion, by something sudden, unexpected, or remarkable; to confound; as, his conduct surprised me

  7. Surprisenoun

    to lead (one) to do suddenly and without forethought; to bring (one) into some unexpected state; -- with into; as, to be surprised into an indiscretion; to be surprised into generosity

  8. Surprisenoun

    to hold possession of; to hold

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Surprise

    sur-prīz′, n. act of taking unawares: the emotion caused by anything sudden: amazement.—v.t. to come upon suddenly or unawares: to lead or bring unawares, to betray (with into): to strike with wonder or astonishment: to confuse.—n. Surprīs′al, act of surprising.—adv. Surprīs′edly.—adj. Surprīs′ing, exciting surprise: wonderful: unexpected.—adv. Surprīs′ingly.—n. Surprīs′ingness. [Fr.,—surpris, pa.p. of surprendre—L. super, over, prehendĕre, to catch.]

Military Dictionary and Gazetteer

  1. surprise

    In war, to fall on an enemy unexpectedly, in marching through narrow and difficult passes, when one part of an army has passed, and is not able to come at once to the succor of the other; as in the passage of woods, rivers, inclosures, etc. A place is surprised by drains, casements, or the issues of rivers or canals; by encumbering the bridge or gate, or by wagons meeting and stopping each other; or by sending soldiers into the place, under pretense of being deserters, who, on entering, surprise the guard, being sustained by troops at hand in ambush, to whom they give entrance, and thereby seize the place. Military history abounds with instances of successful surprises.

Editors Contribution

  1. surprise

    To bring, give or receive a joyful, logical and just contribution or gift.

    We all love our family so we regularly arrange a family gathering for us all, we love to surprise with the type of food we contribute.

    Submitted by MaryC on April 16, 2016  

Suggested Resources

  1. surprise

    The surprise symbol -- In this Symbols.com article you will learn about the meaning of the surprise symbol and its characteristic.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records


    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Surprise is ranked #43006 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Surprise surname appeared 503 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 0 would have the surname Surprise.

    85.2% or 429 total occurrences were White.
    8.5% or 43 total occurrences were Black.
    3.5% or 18 total occurrences were of two or more races.
    1.5% or 8 total occurrences were Asian.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'surprise' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #2153

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'surprise' in Written Corpus Frequency: #3235

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'surprise' in Nouns Frequency: #903

  4. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'surprise' in Verbs Frequency: #894

How to pronounce surprise?

How to say surprise in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of surprise in Chaldean Numerology is: 3

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of surprise in Pythagorean Numerology is: 8

Examples of surprise in a Sentence

  1. Yukihiro Matsumoto:

    The principle of least surprise is not for you only. The principle of least surprise means principle of least my surprise.

  2. David Moss:

    Consolidation per se in UK life insurance is not a surprise and is necessary, the surprise is perhaps that both businesses are not where they would want to be yet and are in the middle of restructuring programs of their own.

  3. Robert South:

    Wonder is from surprise, and surprise stops with experience.

  4. Charles Langbridge Morgan:

    There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved it is God's finger on man's shoulder.

  5. Harm Bandholz:

    The risk for a negative surprise in August seems to be much larger than the risk for a positive surprise.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for surprise

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • دهشة, فاجأ, دَهْشة, باغت, مُفاجَأَة, دهشArabic
  • sorpresa, sorprendreCatalan, Valencian
  • překvapení, překvapitCzech
  • overraskelse, overraskeDanish
  • Überraschung, überraschenGerman
  • έκπληξη, αιφνιδιάζω, ξάφνιασμα, εκπλήσσω, [[κάνω]] [[έκπληξη]], ξαφνικός, ξαφνιάζω, αιφνίδιοςGreek
  • surprizo, surpriziEsperanto
  • sorpresa, sorprenderSpanish
  • تعجب ساختن, تعجب, سورپریزPersian
  • yllättää, yllätys, hämmästys, hämmästyttääFinnish
  • surprendre, étonner, surpriseFrench
  • ionadhIrish
  • iongnadhScottish Gaelic
  • sorpresa, sorprenderGalician
  • הפתעהHebrew
  • meglepetés, meglep, váratlan, meglepetésszerű, ámulat, megdöbbenésHungarian
  • անակնկալ, անակնկալի բերել, զարմանք, զարմացնելArmenian
  • surprizarIdo
  • sorprendere, meravigliare, sorpresa, stupireItalian
  • הַפתָעָהHebrew
  • 驚き, 驚かすJapanese
  • 놀라게 하다, 놀람Korean
  • IwwerraschungLuxembourgish, Letzeburgesch
  • ninihi, komutuMāori
  • kejutan, mengejutMalay
  • overraskelseNorwegian
  • verrassing, verrassen, verbazing, verbazenDutch
  • overraskingNorwegian Nynorsk
  • overraskning, overraskelse, overraske, overraskelses-Norwegian
  • zaskakiwać, niespodzianka, dziwićPolish
  • surpreender, surpresaPortuguese
  • surpriză, surprinde, surprindereRomanian
  • неожиданность, сюрприз, удивлять, удивить, удивлениеRussian
  • изненађењеSerbo-Croatian
  • presenečenje, presenetitiSlovene
  • förvåning, överraskning, överraskaSwedish
  • ఆశ్చర్యపరచుTelugu
  • sürpriz yapmak, şaşırtmak, sürprizTurkish
  • حیرتUrdu
  • ewaermint, sbarmintWalloon

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"surprise." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 4 Dec. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/surprise>.

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    long and thin and often limp
    • A. currish
    • B. usurious
    • C. commensal
    • D. lank

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