A surprise can be an unexpected or astonishing event, such as an ambush or a really great grade on a test you didn't study for.

Surprise can be a verb meaning to astonish or startle someone, a noun for the unexpected thing, or for the feeling produced by that surprise. It comes from the Latin word for "seize," and originally meant an unexpected military attack. When the novelist Charles Lever wrote in 1841 of "three cavalry regiments, their noiseless gestures and perfect stillness bespeaking at once that they were intended for a surprise party," he meant a surprise attack, not a birthday party.

Definitions of surprise

v come upon or take unawares

“She surprised the couple”
“He surprised an interesting scene”
catch unawares, especially with harmful consequences
Type of:
act, move
perform an action, or work out or perform (an action)

v attack by storm; attack suddenly

Type of:
assail, attack
launch an attack or assault on; begin hostilities or start warfare with

v cause to be surprised

“The news really surprised me”
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amaze, astonish, astound
affect with wonder
explode a bombshell
utter or do something surprising
discover or come upon accidentally, suddenly, or unexpectedly; catch somebody doing something or in a certain state
boggle, bowl over, flabbergast
overcome with amazement
ball over, blow out of the water, floor, shock, take aback
surprise greatly; knock someone's socks off
amaze or bewilder, as with brilliant wit or intellect or skill
galvanise, galvanize, startle
to stimulate to action
Type of:
affect, impress, move, strike
have an emotional or cognitive impact upon

n the act of surprising someone

Type of:
disruption, perturbation
the act of causing disorder

n a sudden unexpected event

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bombshell, thunderbolt, thunderclap
a shocking surprise
coup de theatre
a dramatic surprise
eye opener
something surprising and revealing
peripeteia, peripetia, peripety
a sudden and unexpected change of fortune or reverse of circumstances (especially in a literary work)
blow, shock
an unpleasant or disappointing surprise
an unexpected and amazing event
a sudden minor shock or meaningless interruption
Type of:
alteration, change, modification
an event that occurs when something passes from one state or phase to another

n the astonishment you feel when something totally unexpected happens to you

Type of:
amazement, astonishment
the feeling that accompanies something extremely surprising

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