Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To be beyond the limit, powers, or capacity of; transcend: misery that surpasses comprehension.
  • transitive v. To be or go beyond, as in degree or quality; exceed. See Synonyms at excel.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To go beyond, especially in a metaphoric or technical manner; to exceed.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To go beyond in anything good or bad; to exceed; to excel.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To exceed; excel; go beyond in any way or respect.
  • To go beyond or past; exceed; overrun.
  • Synonyms To outdo, outstrip, outrun, transcend, overtop, beat.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. distinguish oneself
  • v. be greater in scope or size than some standard
  • v. be or do something to a greater degree
  • v. move past

Etymologies

French surpasser, from Old French, to transgress : sur-, sur- + passer, pass; see pass.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French surpasser ("to pass beyond"); sur- +‎ pass. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • This statue has been for a long time a favourite of my imagination, and I approached it, treading softly and slowly, and with a feeling of reverence; for I had an impression that the original Niobe would, like the original Venus, surpass all the casts and copies I had seen both in beauty and expression: but apparently expression is more easily caught than delicacy and grace, and the grandeur and pathos of the attitude and grouping easily copied -- for I think the best casts of the Niobe are accurate counterparts of the original; and at the first glance I was capriciously disappointed, because the statue did not _surpass_ my expectations.

    The Diary of an Ennuyée

  • The younger Mr. Daley was first elected mayor in 1989 and will by the end of his term surpass his father by a year, making him Chicago's longest-serving mayor.

    Chicago Mayor Daley Won't Run for Re-Election

  • Today's indication of notes and coins surpass the peak seen over the June month-end notes when they reached 25.208 billion rand on Jul 5.

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • Elaborating on Engels's assertion that the ultimate aim of a communist party is to "surpass the entire State, and thus democracy too (" surpass "- Überwinden in German, is also translated as" overcome "), Lenin wrote:

    Political Affairs Magazine

  • In achieving that, we do not "surpass" Scripture and the Fathers in the sense of discovering more truth than they together did.

    Archive 2007-03-01

  • But the very word "surpass" implies the existence of a standard common to us and the thing surpassing us.

    Heretics

  • Here, standing close to the mightiest pillar of destiny's throne, we may see once again how restricted her power becomes on such as surpass her in wisdom.

    Wisdom and Destiny

  • The beauty was still there, indeed, but the agony, the blind passion, and the awful vindictiveness displayed upon those quivering features, and in the tortured look of the upturned eyes, were such as surpass my powers of description.

    She

  • Note, God's favours to his covenant-people are such as surpass both their own and others 'thoughts and expectations.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Deuteronomy)

  • Non-eurozone Sweden led the charge going into a full meeting of European Union finance ministers in Brussels, warning that Athens must "surpass" financiers 'expectations if it is to fight off market attack dogs.

    IOL: News

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