Surprising things are completely unexpected—they astonish or startle you. It would be surprising for most of us to get a phone call from the Queen of England.

Unless you suspected your friend was planning something, the surprise party she throws for your birthday will be surprising. Things that are surprising take you aback or even confuse you a little bit. The adjective surprising comes from surprise, via the Old French sorprendre, "to overtake or seize." The original meaning of surprise party was a stealth military action.

Definitions of surprising
  1. adjective
    causing surprise or wonder or amazement
    “the report shows a surprising lack of hard factual data”
    “leaped up with surprising agility”
    “she earned a surprising amount of money”
    not expected or anticipated
    amazing, astonishing
    surprising greatly
    so remarkably different or sudden as to cause momentary shock or alarm
    causing great astonishment and consternation
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    not causing surprise
    considered likely or probable to happen or arrive
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