Definition of surprise in English:

surprise

noun

  • 1An unexpected or astonishing event, fact, etc.

    ‘the announcement came as a complete surprise’
    • ‘Unexpected events or surprises trigger two kinds of reflection.’
    • ‘The closing night of the show was unexpected and full of surprises.’
    • ‘A surprise was sprung on a retiring vicar at a school assembly last week.’
    • ‘A great many surprises are lurking between now and November.’
    • ‘Surprise in war is achieved by doing the unexpected and the avoidance of unpleasant surprises is what military intelligence is all about.’
    • ‘It is easy to forget when you live here, but London is a wonderful city and full of nice surprises even for those of us who see it every day.’
    • ‘The trip here was full of surprises, like the fact that Jon got incredibly seasick almost the minute we left.’
    • ‘It's the latest shocker in a romance that was full of surprises right from the start.’
    • ‘The political environment in Louisiana is always full of surprises but is seldom surprising.’
    • ‘This state visit to Britain is already full of surprises, and it's just barely started.’
    • ‘According to specialists, the championships provided no unexpected surprises.’
    • ‘As prison dramas go, it does have a few surprises up its sleeve.’
    • ‘There could be some unpleasant surprises in store.’
    • ‘Although the repertoire may have few surprises, the fact that the gigs are taking place at all is remarkable.’
    • ‘The competitive broomball season came to an exciting conclusion this week with a playoff that was full of surprises.’
    • ‘Every year brings new adventures, experiences and surprises.’
    • ‘On stage there was yet another pleasant surprise in store for the audience.’
    • ‘The modern political convention is a tightly scripted event with no surprises.’
    • ‘There were two major surprises in the games played this weekend.’
    • ‘Schulhoff's concerto is full of surprises, but it emerges as a cohesive musical statement.’
    shock, bolt from of the blue, bolt out of the blue, thunderbolt, bombshell, revelation, source of amazement, rude awakening, eye-opener
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    1. 1.1mass noun A feeling of mild astonishment or shock caused by something unexpected.
      ‘much to her surprise, she'd missed him’
      • ‘He doesn't even try to hide the surprise in his voice at this.’
      • ‘With mild surprise, he noticed that she was wearing the breeches and shirt of a man.’
      • ‘It is unlikely that anything you say will cause him or her shock or surprise.’
      • ‘Her parents looked at her, a mild bit of surprise showing in their faces.’
      • ‘Slightly embarrassed I'd said too much, I glanced at my plate in mild surprise.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, Cory shook his head, a look of surprise on his face.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Imagine my complete surprise when shortly before sunset, a whole convoy of vehicles entered the camp site.’
      • ‘She watched with mild surprise as the prince knelt next to the chest and lifted the lid.’
      • ‘I, to no one's surprise or disgust no doubt, shall not be attending.’
      • ‘With mild surprise, she noticed that the sound came from the foot of the cliffs on which she stood.’
      • ‘One detaches himself from the herd, I note with mild surprise, and heads outside with me.’
      • ‘Then watch in fear, surprise and alarm as the local copper enters the tunnel at the other end on his pushbike.’
      • ‘The others gasp in surprise, shocked at the unexpected action taken by their usually quiet and nice friend.’
      • ‘He raised his eyebrows in a mild expression of surprise.’
      • ‘I shook my head to find Alex staring at me in surprise, shock, and most of all fright.’
      • ‘Arthur spun in his chair, not an ounce of surprise on his face.’
      • ‘Rachel stared after him in mild surprise, her eyebrow arched and her emerald gaze thoughtful.’
      • ‘Biting into my chocolate muffin, I glanced down at my watch, noticing the time with mild surprise.’
      astonishment, amazement, incredulity, bewilderment, stupefaction, wonder, confusion, disbelief
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    2. 1.2as modifier Denoting something done or happening unexpectedly.
      ‘a surprise attack’
      • ‘The danger of a surprise attack or ambush is very real.’
      • ‘During this surprise attack, the Marines were taking fire from three sides.’
      • ‘The actual submarine specialized in surprise attacks on enemy merchant ships.’
      • ‘Insurgents engage in surprise attacks at night and then withdraw on previously chosen routes.’
      • ‘Others are engineers who manned machine guns to defend comrades from surprise attacks.’
      • ‘Now the question was, should she tell him about Alex's surprise visit?’
      • ‘Without the aide of a surprise attack, they were not much of a challenge.’
      • ‘Two surprise visitors drop in, and then things begin to happen.’
      • ‘He's even throwing me a surprise birthday party (I found out).’
      • ‘There was nothing left to do but pay her friend a little surprise visit.’
      • ‘They were sitting near the camp fire, next to each other, with daggers at their sides in case of a surprise enemy attack.’
      • ‘Initially, the air security service was tasked with preventing surprise attack by enemy aviation.’
      • ‘This surprise attack was not a symmetric attack, but an asymmetric one.’
      • ‘On the last day of February, I got a surprise visit from Will.’
      • ‘Denmark is living up to its billing as the surprise package of the tournament.’
      • ‘For his part, Eisenhower feared a surprise attack and war by miscalculation.’
      • ‘He kept an eye out for a surprise attack as he regenerated his wounds.’
      • ‘The Luftwaffe, however, by its initial surprise attacks on airfields, at once greatly reduced this disparity.’
      • ‘At the same time, it dawned on us that this wasn't going to be any surprise attack.’
      • ‘To General Hue, it looked like the ideal time to launch his surprise attack.’
  • 2Bell-ringing
    as modifier Denoting a complex method of change-ringing.

    ‘surprise major’

verb

[with object]
  • 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘What would your fans be surprised to know about you?’
    • ‘Needless to say, I was somewhat surprised by this reaction.’
    • ‘Many people are very surprised to hear this.’
    • ‘I was very surprised by the result.’
    • ‘I was pleasantly surprised to see it reviewed in USA Today, this morning.’
    • ‘Tommy is somewhat surprised by her frosty reaction as she turns and leads the way inside without a word.’
    • ‘For some reason, I am not surprised by this revelation.’
    • ‘Time and again the team were surprised by positive responses to this approach.’
    • ‘You'd be surprised what those ladies know about what's going on.’
    • ‘Devon didn't look surprised by my outburst.’
    • ‘Keanu looked up to the sky and was pleasantly surprised to see the hawk.’
    • ‘He looked around at the furnishings of the cell, and was mildly surprised for a moment.’
    • ‘A lot of people are actually very surprised to hear that they are in any way unusual.’
    • ‘On the train I ask the chatty parent whether he was surprised at the appointment of a woman.’
    • ‘Her recommendations are surprising in light of the findings in the body of the report.’
    • ‘I was quite surprised to discover how this improved my own reading concentration.’
    • ‘She was hardly surprised to see Carden laughing as if he had never been mad.’
    • ‘We were all a bit surprised to hear that Shay was a horse person.’
    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
    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
    unexpected, unanticipated, unforeseen, unpredictable, unpredicted
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    1. 1.1 Capture, attack, or discover suddenly and unexpectedly.
      ‘he surprised a gang stealing scrap metal’
      • ‘To be able to surprise the U.S. military, they will try to learn more about it than the military knows about itself.’
      • ‘Information that is not tracked could later surprise the Army on the battlefield.’
      • ‘As Ralph, Piggy, and the remaining boys sit on the beach, some of the hunters surprise them and ambush them.’
      • ‘When they got in they could then surprise the occupants, catching them off guard easily.’
      • ‘An aircraft would on many occasions surprise a surfaced U-boat and attack it with both cannon fire and depth charges.’
      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 pants down, catch someone with their trousers down, catch in flagrante delicto
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Phrases

  • surprise, surprise

    • 1informal Said when giving someone a surprise.

      ‘a voice called out ‘Surprise, surprise!’ and all the lights suddenly flashed on’
      1. 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 it’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘Hurricane Fabian is expected to graze the west of Bermuda on Friday night, bringing - surprise, surprise - strong winds and thunderstorms.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘These two argue, they fight, they have misunderstandings, they sing, they dance and - surprise, surprise - they fall in love.’
        • ‘Now that the election is over - surprise, surprise - the truth comes out.’
        • ‘There's a happy ending, surprise, surprise, but the parade doesn't stop there - the soundtrack is so catchy you won't be able to get it out of your head for weeks to come.’
  • take someone/something by surprise

    • 1Attack or capture someone or something unexpectedly.

      ‘his flotilla was taken wholly by surprise when fired on by the British warships’
      • ‘The security officials were taken by surprise by the attack.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘These tactics took our opponents by surprise, which, to a large extent, contributed to our victories.’
      • ‘Unknown at that time was the fact that the Japanese had pulled back many of their combat aircraft to prepare them for the suicide attacks that would take the Americans by surprise.’
      • ‘When he spotted a machine-gun nest about to shoot up the main body, he charged, taking the Germans by surprise.’
      • ‘The attack took the troops by surprise, but was no more successful than any of the previous offensives.’
      1. 1.1Happen when someone is not prepared.
        ‘the question took David by surprise’
        • ‘The question took Scott by surprise and he hesitated a moment before answering.’
        • ‘In the end he decided to pull the rug, though I do argue with the way he handled it, and it obviously took his coaches by surprise.’
        • ‘The question took me by surprise, and I eyed him warily.’
        • ‘My five-year-old son's question took me by surprise.’
        • ‘The sprawling capital has been hit by drought for months, but the speed of the fire's spread took residents by surprise.’
        • ‘The vote's timing - at 3: 30 a.m., just before the House recessed for August - took opponents by surprise.’
        • ‘Zoe's illness took her family by surprise and crept into their lives gradually.’
        • ‘No matter how many times I am asked that question, it still takes me by surprise.’
        • ‘For one split second, her question took him by surprise.’
        • ‘The question took Rebecca by surprise, and she was ashamed to admit the truth.’
        take aback, surprise, shock, stun, stagger, astound, astonish, startle
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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’.

Pronunciation

surprise

/səˈprʌɪz/