Definition of surprise in US English:

surprise

noun

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

    ‘the announcement was a complete surprise’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Unexpected events or surprises trigger two kinds of reflection.’
    • ‘There could be some unpleasant surprises in store.’
    • ‘On stage there was yet another pleasant surprise in store for the audience.’
    • ‘Schulhoff's concerto is full of surprises, but it emerges as a cohesive musical statement.’
    • ‘Although the repertoire may have few surprises, the fact that the gigs are taking place at all is remarkable.’
    • ‘The modern political convention is a tightly scripted event with no surprises.’
    • ‘A surprise was sprung on a retiring vicar at a school assembly last week.’
    • ‘Every year brings new adventures, experiences and surprises.’
    • ‘The competitive broomball season came to an exciting conclusion this week with a playoff that was full of surprises.’
    • ‘It's the latest shocker in a romance that was full of surprises right from the start.’
    • ‘A great many surprises are lurking between now and November.’
    • ‘As prison dramas go, it does have a few surprises up its sleeve.’
    • ‘Surprise in war is achieved by doing the unexpected and the avoidance of unpleasant surprises is what military intelligence is all about.’
    • ‘According to specialists, the championships provided no unexpected surprises.’
    • ‘There were two major surprises in the games played this weekend.’
    • ‘The closing night of the show was unexpected and full of surprises.’
    • ‘This state visit to Britain is already full of surprises, and it's just barely started.’
    • ‘The political environment in Louisiana is always full of surprises but is seldom surprising.’
    shock, bolt from of the blue, bolt out of the blue, thunderbolt, bombshell, revelation, source of amazement, rude awakening, eye-opener
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A feeling of mild astonishment or shock caused by something unexpected.
      ‘much to her surprise, she'd missed him’
      • ‘With mild surprise, he noticed that she was wearing the breeches and shirt of a man.’
      • ‘With mild surprise, she noticed that the sound came from the foot of the cliffs on which she stood.’
      • ‘It is unlikely that anything you say will cause him or her shock or surprise.’
      • ‘She watched with mild surprise as the prince knelt next to the chest and lifted the lid.’
      • ‘He raised his eyebrows in a mild expression of surprise.’
      • ‘She looked down in mild surprise and disdain before breaking off the shaft and holding it up to inspect it more closely.’
      • ‘Arthur spun in his chair, not an ounce of surprise on his face.’
      • ‘One detaches himself from the herd, I note with mild surprise, and heads outside with me.’
      • ‘I shook my head to find Alex staring at me in surprise, shock, and most of all fright.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, Cory shook his head, a look of surprise on his face.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I, to no one's surprise or disgust no doubt, shall not be attending.’
      • ‘Slightly embarrassed I'd said too much, I glanced at my plate in mild surprise.’
      • ‘He doesn't even try to hide the surprise in his voice at this.’
      • ‘Grant had an interesting expression, something of mild surprise, anger, and annoyance.’
      • ‘Her parents looked at her, a mild bit of surprise showing in their faces.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Imagine my complete surprise when shortly before sunset, a whole convoy of vehicles entered the camp site.’
      astonishment, amazement, incredulity, bewilderment, stupefaction, wonder, confusion, disbelief
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2as modifier Denoting something made, done, or happening unexpectedly.
      ‘a surprise attack’
      • ‘Now the question was, should she tell him about Alex's surprise visit?’
      • ‘To General Hue, it looked like the ideal time to launch his surprise attack.’
      • ‘There was nothing left to do but pay her friend a little surprise visit.’
      • ‘He's even throwing me a surprise birthday party (I found out).’
      • ‘This surprise attack was not a symmetric attack, but an asymmetric one.’
      • ‘Two surprise visitors drop in, and then things begin to happen.’
      • ‘Without the aide of a surprise attack, they were not much of a challenge.’
      • ‘Denmark is living up to its billing as the surprise package of the tournament.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The danger of a surprise attack or ambush is very real.’
      • ‘Initially, the air security service was tasked with preventing surprise attack by enemy aviation.’
      • ‘Others are engineers who manned machine guns to defend comrades from surprise attacks.’
      • ‘On the last day of February, I got a surprise visit from Will.’
      • ‘Insurgents engage in surprise attacks at night and then withdraw on previously chosen routes.’
      • ‘The actual submarine specialized in surprise attacks on enemy merchant ships.’
      • ‘They were sitting near the camp fire, next to each other, with daggers at their sides in case of a surprise enemy attack.’
      • ‘He kept an eye out for a surprise attack as he regenerated his wounds.’
      • ‘During this surprise attack, the Marines were taking fire from three sides.’
      • ‘For his part, Eisenhower feared a surprise attack and war by miscalculation.’
  • 2Bell-ringing
    as modifier Denoting a class of complex methods 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’
    with infinitive ‘she was surprised to learn that he was forty’
    • ‘For some reason, I am not surprised by this revelation.’
    • ‘Keanu looked up to the sky and was pleasantly surprised to see the hawk.’
    • ‘She was hardly surprised to see Carden laughing as if he had never been mad.’
    • ‘Tommy is somewhat surprised by her frosty reaction as she turns and leads the way inside without a word.’
    • ‘Time and again the team were surprised by positive responses to this approach.’
    • ‘Devon didn't look surprised by my outburst.’
    • ‘Her recommendations are surprising in light of the findings in the body of the report.’
    • ‘He was surprised at the feelings Kate had provoked in him since he'd met her the previous day.’
    • ‘I was quite surprised to discover how this improved my own reading concentration.’
    • ‘On the train I ask the chatty parent whether he was surprised at the appointment of a woman.’
    • ‘What would your fans be surprised to know about you?’
    • ‘He looked around at the furnishings of the cell, and was mildly surprised for a moment.’
    • ‘I was very surprised by the result.’
    • ‘We were all a bit surprised to hear that Shay was a horse person.’
    • ‘You'd be surprised what those ladies know about what's going on.’
    • ‘Needless to say, I was somewhat surprised by this reaction.’
    • ‘I was pleasantly surprised to see it reviewed in USA Today, this morning.’
    • ‘A lot of people are actually very surprised to hear that they are in any way unusual.’
    • ‘Many people are very surprised to hear this.’
    • ‘The researchers were pleasantly surprised to find 56 more gorillas.’
    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
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Capture, attack, or discover suddenly and unexpectedly; catch unawares.
      ‘he surprised a gang stealing scrap metal’
      • ‘An aircraft would on many occasions surprise a surfaced U-boat and attack it with both cannon fire and depth charges.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      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
      View synonyms

Phrases

  • surprise, surprise

    • 1informal Said when giving someone a surprise.

      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’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The security officials were taken by surprise by the attack.’
      • ‘These tactics took our opponents by surprise, which, to a large extent, contributed to our victories.’
      • ‘When he spotted a machine-gun nest about to shoot up the main body, he charged, taking the Germans by surprise.’
      • ‘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.’
      1. 1.1Happen when someone is not prepared or is expecting something different.
        ‘the question took David by surprise’
        • ‘My five-year-old son's question took me by surprise.’
        • ‘Zoe's illness took her family by surprise and crept into their lives gradually.’
        • ‘The question took Scott by surprise and he hesitated a moment before answering.’
        • ‘The question took Rebecca by surprise, and she was ashamed to admit the truth.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘For one split second, her question took him by surprise.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘No matter how many times I am asked that question, it still takes me by surprise.’
        take aback, surprise, shock, stun, stagger, astound, astonish, startle
        View synonyms

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

/sə(r)ˈprīz//sə(r)ˈpraɪz/