verb (used with object), sur·prised, sur·pris·ing.
- to come upon unawares.
- to astonish; amaze: The amount of the donation took us completely by surprise.
Origin of surprise
Synonyms for surprise
Related Words for take by surprisebeat, overwhelm, befall, outstrip, outdo, outdistance, engulf, startle, hit, reach, better, strike, overhaul, happen, nab, capture, seize, discover, bushwhack, ambush
- to come upon suddenly and without warning
- to capture unexpectedly or catch unprepared
- to astonish; amaze
Word Origin for surprise
late 14c., "unexpected attack or capture," from Middle French surprise "a taking unawares," from noun use of past participle of Old French surprendre "to overtake," from sur- "over" (see sur-) + prendre "to take," from Latin prendere, contracted from prehendere "to grasp, seize" (see prehensile). Meaning "something unexpected" first recorded 1590s, that of "feeling caused by something unexpected" is c.1600. Meaning "fancy dish" is attested from 1708.
A Surprize is ... a dish ... which promising little from its first appearance, when open abounds with all sorts of variety. [W. King, "Cookery," 1708]
Surprise party originally was a military detachment (1841); festive sense is attested from 1858.
take by surprise
Encounter unexpectedly, as in The rainshower took us by surprise. [Late 1600s]
see take by surprise.