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[ser-mount] /sərˈmaʊnt/
verb (used with object)
to mount upon; get on the top of; mount upon and cross over:
to surmount a hill.
to get over or across (barriers, obstacles, etc.).
to prevail over:
to surmount tremendous difficulties.
to be on top of or above:
a statue surmounting a pillar.
to furnish with something placed on top or above:
to surmount a tower with a spire.
  1. to surpass in excellence.
  2. to exceed in amount.
Origin of surmount
1325-75; Middle English surmounten < Anglo-French surmounter, Middle French. See sur-1, mount1
Related forms
surmountable, adjective
surmountableness, noun
surmounter, noun
unsurmountable, adjective
unsurmounted, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for unsurmountable
Historical Examples
  • Others than he would at once be confronted with an unsurmountable difficulty.

  • The difficulty of broaching the subject to his equerry struck him as unsurmountable.


    Louis Couperus
  • He had not been at Frankfort a year before he had learnt to look on this hostility of Austria as unsurmountable.

  • It must have been even an unsurmountable Barrier to the Kofirans, in case they reduced the City.

    The Amours of Zeokinizul, King of the Kofirans

    Claude Prosper Jolyot de Crbillon
  • The presence of a British factor would be an unsurmountable bar to that consummation, hence the necessity of its total removal.

  • But in many cases this cure cannot be applied, owing to the unsurmountable obstacles.

    Woman and Socialism August Bebel
  • Now that safeguard, previously unsurmountable, vanished by reason of the girls presence.

    The Message Louis Tracy
  • To-morrow they might be out of our reach, and I should be confronted with difficulties that might be unsurmountable.

    The Betrayal of John Fordham B.L. (Benjamin Leopold) Farjeon
  • The mere fact that she, and she alone, was responsible for his flight placed between them an unsurmountable barrier.

    Graustark George Barr McCutcheon
  • The management of the canoe alone appears a work of unsurmountable difficulty, its breadth is so inadequate to its length.

British Dictionary definitions for unsurmountable


(of a problem, etc) not capable of being solved or overcome


verb (transitive)
to prevail over; overcome: to surmount tremendous difficulties
to ascend and cross to the opposite side of
to lie on top of or rise above
to put something on top of or above
(obsolete) to surpass or exceed
Derived Forms
surmountable, adjective
surmountableness, noun
surmounter, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French surmonter, from sur-1 + monter to mount1
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
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Word Origin and History for unsurmountable

1701, from un- (1) "not" + surmountable (see surmount).



late 14c., "to rise above, go beyond," from Old French surmounter "rise above," from sur- "beyond" (see sur-) + monter "to go up" (see mount (v.)). Meaning "to prevail over, overcome" is recorded from late 14c. Related: Surmounted; surmounting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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