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verb (used without object), sur·ceased, sur·ceas·ing.
  1. to cease from some action; desist.
  2. to come to an end.
verb (used with object), sur·ceased, sur·ceas·ing.
  1. Archaic. to cease from; leave off.
  1. cessation; end.

Origin of surcease

1400–50; sur-1 + cease; replacing late Middle English sursesen (v.) < Middle French sursis (past participle of surseoir) < Latin supersessus (past participle of supersedēre to forbear; see supersede), equivalent to super- super- + sed(ēre) sit1 + -tus past participle suffix, with dt > ss
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for surcease

Historical Examples

  • I will leave you, laddie, to seek in slumber a surcease from martyrdom.

    The Rough Road</p>

    William John Locke

  • They knew no surcease from labor, but toiled on without murmur or complaint.

  • What blew up the Art, will in its own surcease terminate its success.

  • But about them there was no sign of reluctance or of surcease.

  • What overflattered child ever asked for a surcease of flattery?

British Dictionary definitions for surcease


  1. cessation or intermission
  1. to desist from (some action)
  2. to cease or cause to cease

Word Origin

C16: from earlier sursesen, from Old French surseoir, from Latin supersedēre; see supersede
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for surcease


early 15c., "cease from an action, desist," from Anglo-French surseser, from Old French sursis, past participle of surseoir "to refrain, delay," from Latin supersedere (see supersede). The English spelling with -c- was influenced by the unrelated verb cease.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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