[ser-prahyz, suh-]
See more synonyms for surprise on
verb (used with object), sur·prised, sur·pris·ing.
  1. to strike or occur to with a sudden feeling of wonder or astonishment, as through unexpectedness: Her beauty surprised me.
  2. to come upon or discover suddenly and unexpectedly: We surprised the children raiding the cookie jar.
  3. to make an unexpected assault on (an unprepared army, fort, person, etc.).
  4. to elicit or bring out suddenly and without warning: to surprise the facts from the witness.
  5. to lead or bring unawares, as into doing something not intended: to surprise a witness into telling the truth.
  1. an act or instance of surprising or being surprised.
  2. something that surprises someone; a completely unexpected occurrence, appearance, or statement: His announcement was a surprise to all.
  3. an assault, as on an army or a fort, made without warning.
  4. a coming upon unexpectedly; detecting in the act; taking unawares.
  1. take by surprise,
    1. to come upon unawares.
    2. to astonish; amaze: The amount of the donation took us completely by surprise.

Origin of surprise

1425–75; (noun) late Middle English < Anglo-French surpris(e), Middle French, past participle of surprendre, equivalent to sur- sur-1 + pris (masculine), prise (feminine) < Latin prēnsus, -sa, equivalent to prēnd(ere), contracted variant of prehendere to take (see prehension) + -tus, -ta past participle suffix; (v.) late Middle English surprisen < Anglo-French surpris(e) (past participle), Middle French, as above
Related formssur·pris·ed·ly [ser-prahy-zid-lee, -prahyzd-, suh-] /sərˈpraɪ zɪd li, -ˈpraɪzd-, sə-/, adverbsur·pris·er, nounsu·per·sur·prise, nounun·sur·prised, adjective

Synonyms for surprise

See more synonyms for on
1. Surprise, astonish, amaze, astound mean to strike with wonder because of unexpectedness, strangeness, unusualness, etc. To surprise is to take unawares or to affect with wonder: surprised at receiving a telegram. To astonish is to strike with wonder by something unlooked for, startling, or seemingly inexplicable: astonished at someone's behavior. To amaze is to astonish so greatly as to disconcert or bewilder: amazed at such an evidence of stupidity. To astound is to so overwhelm with surprise that one is unable to think or act: astounded by the news. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for unsurprised

Contemporary Examples of unsurprised

  • Color me unsurprised; I never got the Groupon business model.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Trouble in Coupon Land

    Megan McArdle

    November 30, 2012

Historical Examples of unsurprised

  • Why keep behind unexcited, unsurprised, while the doctor told his story?

  • She drove to the hotel and met the cordial, unsurprised greeting of the clerk.

    The Dual Alliance

    Marjorie Benton Cooke

  • There was on their thin little faces a patient and unsurprised resignation.

    Home Fires in France

    Dorothy Canfield

  • It was a woman's voice, pleasant, unsurprised, perfectly modulated.

    Elusive Isabel

    Jacques Futrelle

  • In fact, the only unsurprised party to the transaction was the dame known as Nature.

    Half Portions

    Edna Ferber

British Dictionary definitions for unsurprised


  1. not feeling amazement or wonder


verb (tr)
  1. to cause to feel amazement or wonder
  2. to encounter or discover unexpectedly or suddenly
  3. to capture or assault suddenly and without warning
  4. to present with something unexpected, such as a gift
  5. (foll by into) to provoke (someone) to unintended action by a trick, etcto surprise a person into an indiscretion
  6. (often foll by from) to elicit by unexpected behaviour or by a trickto surprise information from a prisoner
  1. the act or an instance of surprising; the act of taking unawares
  2. a sudden or unexpected event, gift, etc
  3. the feeling or condition of being surprised; astonishment
  4. (modifier) causing, characterized by, or relying upon surprisea surprise move
  5. take by surprise
    1. to come upon suddenly and without warning
    2. to capture unexpectedly or catch unprepared
    3. to astonish; amaze
Derived Formssurprisal, nounsurprised, adjectivesurprisedly (səˈpraɪzɪdlɪ), adverbsurpriser, noun

Word Origin for surprise

C15: from Old French, from surprendre to overtake, from sur- 1 + prendre from Latin prehendere to grasp; see prehensile
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 unsurprised



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.



late 14c., from Anglo-French surprise, fem. past participle of surprendre (see surprise (n.)). Related: Surprised; surprising.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with unsurprised


see take by surprise.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.