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.


  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

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

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