Definition of surcease in US English:



North American
  • 1Cessation.

    ‘he teased us without surcease’
    • ‘In this country, not only have we been about the making of many, many books in recent years-more than 175,000 new titles and editions last year alone-but there also appears to be no surcease in sight.’
    • ‘In Savannah Bay, two women talk and talk - or pause and pose - without surcease.’
    interval, interlude, entr'acte, break, recess, pause, rest, respite, breathing space, lull, gap, stop, stoppage, halt
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    1. 1.1 Relief or consolation.
      ‘drugs are taken to provide surcease from intolerable psychic pain’
      • ‘A shepherd or two could be spared, but the suffering of kings demands surcease.’
      • ‘All the 12-steps deals seem to give him some sort of surcease from daily pressures.’
      • ‘With their thirst for revenge sated, there is nothing left for either Lavinia or the maddened Titus but the surcease of sorrow in death.’
      • ‘Only art, he says, offers us surcease from this cycle of striving meeting disappointment.’
      • ‘My wife Mary returned to Honolulu with Miki to help with all the arrangements and to offer some surcease from the grief.’
      • ‘A mixture of pain, grief, and guilt - one of the most bitter cocktails the human experience offers - can cause people to do unexpected things in the quest for surcease.’
      interval, intermission, break, recess, pause, respite, rest, breathing space, halt, gap, stop, stoppage, hiatus, lull
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[no object]archaic
  • Cease.

    • ‘Logging old growth forests - and distributing and selling old growth forest products - is a barbaric, outdated practice that has surceased in the American marketplace.’
    • ‘You can now toss the bottle of Prozac over your shoulder and realize that depression has surceased.’


Late Middle English (as a verb): from Old French sursis, past participle of Old French surseoir ‘refrain, delay’, from Latin supersedere (see supersede). The change in the ending was due to association with cease; the noun dates from the late 16th century.