[ser-pas-ing, -pah-sing]


of a large amount or high degree; exceeding, excelling, or extraordinary: structures of surpassing magnificence.


in a surpassing manner; extraordinarily.

Origin of surpassing

First recorded in 1570–80; surpass + -ing2
Related formssur·pass·ing·ly, adverb


[ser-pas, -pahs]

verb (used with object)

to go beyond in amount, extent, or degree; be greater than; exceed.
to go beyond in excellence or achievement; be superior to; excel: He surpassed his brother in sports.
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. 2019

Examples from the Web for surpassing

Contemporary Examples of surpassing

Historical Examples of surpassing

  • They were not altogether sure yet that the Spaniards were not gods, or at the least Surpassing Beings.

    The Trail Book

    Mary Austin

  • There was another, surpassing them all, which attended me many days.

    Green Mansions

    W. H. Hudson

  • I am curious to know,' said Mr Chester, with surpassing affability.

    Barnaby Rudge

    Charles Dickens

  • He described her as of surpassing beauty, wit, and accomplishment.

  • But in our faces she found a consternation far surpassing hers.

British Dictionary definitions for surpassing



exceptional; extraordinary


obsolete, or poetic (intensifier)surpassing fair
Derived Formssurpassingly, adverb


verb (tr)

to be greater than in degree, extent, etc
to be superior to in achievement or excellence
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 surpassing



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