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

  • n. The act of surprising or the state of being surprised.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of surprising, or state of being surprised; surprise.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The act of surprising, or coming suddenly and unexpectedly, or the state of being surprised, or taken unawares; a surprise.

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

  • n. the act of surprising someone


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From surprise +‎ -al.


  • According to Shannon surprisal, which is the information measure that D&M use, D&M’s exogenous information measures the amount of information in the success-or-failure outcome of the baseline search, not the amount of information in the search parameters.

    How do evolutionary processes create information? - The Panda's Thumb

  • These hypotheses and a similar surprisal hypothesis are tested using the self-paced reading methodology in Japanese, a language with a few nice properties like relatively free word order, which makes controlling the stimuli slightly easier than it is in English.

    Cognitive Science, January 2010

  • Every one of his followers started up at the command, and mingled as they were among their late allies, prepared too for such a surprisal, each had, in an instant, his next neighbour by the collar, while his right hand brandished a broad dagger that glimmered against lamplight and moonshine.

    Quentin Durward

  • However little Quentin thought himself indebted to the King of France, who, in contriving the surprisal of the Countess Isabelle by William de la

    Quentin Durward

  • In many other papers and books, too numerous to be listed here, the same quantity is often referred to as “surprisal.”

    The Skeptic paper online - The Panda's Thumb

  • The same fashion in their doors the Greeks, they say, had of old universally, which appears from their comedies, where those that are going out make a noise at the door within, to give notice to those that pass by or stand near the door, that the opening the door into the street might occasion no surprisal.

    The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans

  • Surrounded by hostile tribes, whose mode of warfare is by ambush and surprisal, he is always prepared for fight, and lives with his weapons in his hands.

    The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon

  • In one place we read of the surprisal of an Indian fort in the night, when the wigwams were wrapped in flames, and the miserable inhabitants shot down and slain in attempting to escape, “all being despatched and ended in the course of an hour.”

    The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon

  • A want of a due sense of surprisal into known sins; [4.]

    The Sermons of John Owen

  • Be they of what nature they will, -- be they in our relations, in our enjoyments, in our persons, -- of what kind they will, why, yet we may have a surprisal befall us in reference to them all; because there is no promise of God to secure the contrary, therefore it may be so.

    The Sermons of John Owen


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Surprisal as an information measure was first defined by Myron Tribus in his 1961 book Thermostatics and Thermodynamics, so that it is equal in bits to the base-2 log of 1 over the probability, with the result that e.g. the number of choices equals 2 to the number of bits.

    September 28, 2015