Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To encounter suddenly or unexpectedly; take or catch unawares.
  • transitive v. To attack or capture suddenly and without warning.
  • transitive v. To cause to feel wonder, astonishment, or amazement, as at something unanticipated.
  • transitive v. To cause (someone) to do or say something unintended.
  • transitive v. To elicit or detect through surprise.
  • n. The act of surprising or the condition of being surprised.
  • n. Something, such as an unexpected encounter, event, or gift, that surprises.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Something not expected.
  • n. Unexpected.
  • n. The feeling that something unexpected has happened.
  • v. To cause (someone) to feel unusually alarmed or delighted.
  • v. To do something to (a person) that they are not expecting, as a surprise.
  • v. To undergo or witness something unexpected.
  • v. To cause surprise.
  • v. To attack unexpectedly.
  • v. To take unawares.
  • adj. Unexpected.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of coming upon, or taking, unawares; the act of seizing unexpectedly; surprisal.
  • n. The state of being surprised, or taken unawares, by some act or event which could not reasonably be foreseen; emotion excited by what is sudden and strange; a suddenly excited feeling of wonder or astonishment.
  • n. Anything that causes such a state or emotion.
  • n. A dish covered with a crust of raised paste, but with no other contents.
  • transitive v. To come or fall suddenly and unexpectedly; to take unawares; to seize or capture by unexpected attack.
  • transitive v. To strike with wonder, astonishment, or confusion, by something sudden, unexpected, or remarkable; to confound.
  • transitive v. To lead (one) to do suddenly and without forethought; to bring (one) into some unexpected state; -- with into.
  • transitive v. To hold possession of; to hold.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To come upon unexpectedly; fall upon or assail suddenly and without warning; take or capture one who is off his guard, by an unexpected movement.
  • To seize suddenly; capture.
  • To disconcert; confuse; confound.
  • To strike with sudden astonishment, as by something unexpected or remarkable either in conduct or in speech, or by the appearance of something unusual: often used in a weakened sense.
  • To lead or bring unawares; betray; lead (a person) to do or say something without previous intention: with into: as, to be surprised into making a confession or an explanation.
  • To hold possession of; hold.
  • Synonyms Surprise, Astonish, Amaze, Astound, startle. The italicized words are in the order of strength. They express the effect upon the mind of that which is unexpected and perhaps sudden. To surprise is, literally, to take unawares or suddenly, to affect with wonder: as, I am surprised to find you here. Astonish applies especially to that which is great or striking. Amaze, literally, to put into a maze, is used to express perturbation or bewilderment in one's surprise, and naturally therefore belongs to that which closely concerns one's self or is incomprehensible. To astound is to overwhelm with surprise, to make dumb, helpless, or unable to think. We are surprised at a thing because we did not expect it, astonished because of its remarkableness in some respect, amazed because we cannot understand how it came to pass, astounded so that we do not know what to think or do.
  • n. The act of coming upon anything unawares, or of taking it suddenly and without warning or preparation: as, the fort was taken by surprise.
  • n. The state of being seized with astonishment; an emotion excited by something happening suddenly and unexpectedly; astonishment; amazement.
  • n. Anything which causes the feeling of surprise, as an unexpected event or a novel and striking thought.
  • n. A dish covered with a crust of raised paste, but with no other contents, or with contents of unexpected quality or variety.
  • n. Same as back-scratcher, 2.
  • n. Synonyms See surprise, v., and surprising.

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

  • v. come upon or take unawares
  • n. the act of surprising someone
  • n. the astonishment you feel when something totally unexpected happens to you
  • n. a sudden unexpected event
  • v. attack by storm; attack suddenly
  • v. cause to be surprised

Etymologies

Middle English surprisen, to overcome, from Old French surprise, feminine past participle of surprendre, to surprise : sur-, sur- + prendre, to take (from Latin prehendere, prēndere, to seize).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Middle French surprise ("an overtake"), from noun use of past participle of Old French surprendre ("to overtake"), from sur- ("over") + prendre ("to take"), from Latin prendere, contracted from prehendere ("to grasp, seize") (Wiktionary)

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