Definition of surprise in English:

surprise

Line breaks: sur|prise
Pronunciation: /səˈprʌɪz
 
/

noun

1An unexpected or astonishing event, fact, etc. the announcement came as a complete surprise
More example sentences
  • The trip here was full of surprises, like the fact that Jon got incredibly seasick almost the minute we left.
  • Surprise in war is achieved by doing the unexpected and the avoidance of unpleasant surprises is what military intelligence is all about.
  • The political environment in Louisiana is always full of surprises but is seldom surprising.
Synonyms
shock, bolt from/out of the blue, thunderbolt, bombshell, revelation, source of amazement, rude awakening, eye-opener
informal start
turn up for the books, shocker, whammy
1.1 [mass noun] A feeling of mild astonishment or shock caused by something unexpected: much to her surprise, she’d missed him
More example sentences
  • Grant had an interesting expression, something of mild surprise, anger, and annoyance.
  • She looked down in mild surprise and disdain before breaking off the shaft and holding it up to inspect it more closely.
  • One detaches himself from the herd, I note with mild surprise, and heads outside with me.
Synonyms
1.2 [as modifier] Denoting something done or happening unexpectedly: a surprise attack
More example sentences
  • For his part, Eisenhower feared a surprise attack and war by miscalculation.
  • Others are engineers who manned machine guns to defend comrades from surprise attacks.
  • Initially, the air security service was tasked with preventing surprise attack by enemy aviation.
2 [as modifier] Bell-ringing Denoting a complex method of change-ringing: surprise major

verb

[with object] Back to top  
1(Of something unexpected) cause (someone) to feel mild astonishment or shock: I was surprised at his statement [with object and clause]: Joe was surprised that he enjoyed the journey
More example sentences
  • On the train I ask the chatty parent whether he was surprised at the appointment of a woman.
  • He was surprised at the feelings Kate had provoked in him since he'd met her the previous day.
  • The researchers were pleasantly surprised to find 56 more gorillas.
Synonyms
astonish, amaze, nonplus, startle, astound, stun, flabbergast, stagger, shock, stop someone in their tracks, stupefy, leave open-mouthed, take someone's breath away, dumbfound, daze, benumb, confound, take aback, jolt, shake up
informal bowl over, knock for six, floor, blow someone's mind, strike dumb
astonished, amazed, in amazement, nonplussed, taken aback, startled, astounded, stunned, flabbergasted, staggered, shocked, shell-shocked, stupefied, open-mouthed, dumbfounded, dumbstruck, speechless, at a loss for words, thunderstruck, dazed, benumbed, confounded, agape, goggle-eyed, wide-eyed, jolted, shaken up
informal bowled over, knocked for six, floored, flummoxed, caught on the hop, caught on the wrong foot, unable to believe one's eyes/ears
unexpected, unanticipated, unforeseen, unpredictable, unpredicted; astonishing, amazing, startling, astounding, striking, staggering, incredible, extraordinary, dazzling, breathtaking, remarkable, wonderful, unusual
informal mind-blowing
1.1Capture, attack, or discover suddenly and unexpectedly: he surprised a gang stealing scrap metal
More example sentences
  • When they got in they could then surprise the occupants, catching them off guard easily.
  • Information that is not tracked could later surprise the Army on the battlefield.
  • To be able to surprise the U.S. military, they will try to learn more about it than the military knows about itself.
Synonyms
take by surprise, catch unawares, catch off guard, catch red-handed, catch in the act, catch napping, catch out, burst in on, catch someone with their trousers/pants down, catch in flagrante delicto
British informal catch on the hop

Origin

late Middle English (in the sense 'unexpected seizure of a place, or attack on troops'): from Old French, feminine past participle of surprendre, from medieval Latin superprehendere 'seize'.

Phrases

surprise, surprise

informal
Said when giving someone a surprise: a voice called out ‘Surprise, surprise!’ and all the lights suddenly flashed on
Said ironically when one believes that something was entirely predictable: we entrust you with Jason’s care and, surprise surprise, you make a mess of it
More example sentences
  • All the beautiful old stone work was taken away and, surprise, surprise, when it was rebuilt was replaced by ugly aluminium fencing which is an insult to the locality and a veritable eyesore.
  • It also found - surprise, surprise - that women prefer tall dark strangers, but do not like men with long hair, beards or stubble, who like football and smoke.
  • Hurricane Fabian is expected to graze the west of Bermuda on Friday night, bringing - surprise, surprise - strong winds and thunderstorms.

take someone/thing by surprise

Attack or capture someone or something unexpectedly: his flotilla was taken wholly by surprise when fired on by the British warships
More example sentences
  • The security officials were taken by surprise by the attack.
  • The attack took the troops by surprise, but was no more successful than any of the previous offensives.
  • Some have accused Franklin D. Roosevelt of deliberately permitting the attack to take his forces by surprise so as to bring the United States into the war.
(take someone by surprise) Happen when someone is not prepared: the question took David by surprise
More example sentences
  • My five-year-old son's question took me by surprise.
  • The question took Rebecca by surprise, and she was ashamed to admit the truth.
  • The question took Scott by surprise and he hesitated a moment before answering.
Synonyms
take aback, surprise, shock, stun, stagger, astound, astonish, startle; dumbfound, daze, nonplus, stop someone in their tracks, stupefy, take someone's breath away; shake (up), jolt, throw, unnerve, disconcert, disturb, disquiet, unsettle, discompose, bewilder
informal flabbergast, knock for six, knock sideways, knock out, floor, strike dumb

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