Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To do more than or be superior to: synonym: excel.
  • transitive verb To be beyond the limit, powers, or capacity of; transcend.
  • transitive verb To be greater than, as in degree or quality; exceed.
  • idiom (surpass oneself) To do the best that one ever has done at a given activity.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[French surpasser, from Old French, to transgress : sur-, sur- + passer, pass; see pass.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French surpasser ("to pass beyond"); sur- +‎ pass.

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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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

    Development of doctrine, Fr. Louth, and ecumenism

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

    Heretics

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