Definition of surprise in English:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
verb[with object] Back to top
- 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.
- 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.
From the 15th century a surprise was a sudden unexpected attack or seizure of a place. You could also use the word to talk about simply taking a place by force, whether unexpected or not, as in ‘the surprise of Troy’, even after a siege of ten years. Over time the suggestion of force faded away and the sense of something being unexpected came to the fore. The source was medieval Latin superprehendere ‘to seize’, from prehendere source of words listed at prison.
surprise, surprise informal
- 1.1Said ironically when one believes that something was entirely predictable: we entrust you with Jason’s care and, surprise surprise, you make a mess of itMore 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 warshipsMore 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)2.1 Happen when someone is not prepared: the question took David by surpriseMore example sentences
informal flabbergast, knock for six, knock sideways, knock out, floor, strike dumb
- 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.
Words that rhyme with surpriseadvise, apprise, apprize, arise, assize, capsize, chastise, comprise, demise, despise, devise, downsize, excise, flies, guise, incise, low-rise, misprize, outsize, previse, prise, prize, remise, revise, rise, size, surmise, uprise, wise
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