[ser-pas, -pahs]
verb (used with object)
  1. to go beyond in amount, extent, or degree; be greater than; exceed.
  2. to go beyond in excellence or achievement; be superior to; excel: He surpassed his brother in sports.
  3. to be beyond the range or capacity of; transcend: misery that surpasses description.

Origin of surpass

1545–55; < Middle French surpasser, equivalent to sur- sur-1 + passer to pass
Related formssur·pass·a·ble, adjectivesur·pass·er, nounun·sur·pass·a·ble, adjectiveun·sur·passed, adjective

Synonyms for surpass

2. beat, outstrip. See excel. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for surpassed

Contemporary Examples of surpassed

Historical Examples of surpassed

  • In all these fields Pyle's work may be equaled, surpassed, save in one.

  • The result of the performance has surpassed my anticipations.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • It is the only tavern in the village, and for neatness and comfort can not easily be surpassed.

  • But no one surpassed him in the combination of an adequate portion of these with moral worth.


    Samuel Smiles

  • Meg was adorable with her children and surpassed herself in the telling of stories.

    Jan and Her Job

    L. Allen Harker

British Dictionary definitions for surpassed


verb (tr)
  1. to be greater than in degree, extent, etc
  2. to be superior to in achievement or excellence
  3. to overstep the limit or range ofthe theory surpasses my comprehension
Derived Formssurpassable, adjective

Word Origin for surpass

C16: from French surpasser, from sur- 1 + passer to pass
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 surpassed



1550s, from Middle French surpasser "go beyond, exceed, excel," from Old French sur- "beyond" (see sur-) + passer "to go by" (see pass (v.)). Related: Surpassed; surpassing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper