From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishsurprisesur‧prise1 /səˈpraɪz $ sər-/ ●●● S3 W2 noun 1 event [countable]SURPRISED an unexpected or unusual event → shock What a surprise to find you here! We had a big surprise when we found out the truth.2 feeling [countable, uncountable]SURPRISED the feeling you have when something unexpected or unusual happens → shock The man had a look of surprise on his face.in/with surprise Bill looked at him in surprise.to somebody’s surprise (=in a way that surprises someone) Much to his surprise, she gave him her phone number.GrammarYou say: To my surprise, the whole family was there. ✗Don’t say: for my surprise3 → take/catch somebody by surprise4 → take somebody/something by surprise5 gift/party etc [countable usually singular]GIVE an unexpected present, trip etc which you give to someone or organize for them, often on a special occasionsurprise for ‘I’ve got a surprise for you, ’ she said.6 → surprise guest/visitor etc7 → surprise!8 a) surprise, surpriseEXPECT used when saying in a joking way that you expected something to happen or be true The American TV networks are, surprise, surprise, full of stories about the election. b) British English spokenSURPRISED used when you suddenly appear in front of someone who you know is not expecting to see you9 method [uncountable]SURPRISED the use of methods which are intended to cause surprise An element of surprise is important to any attack.COLLOCATIONSverbsbe a surpriseHis decision to marry was a complete surprise.come as a surprise (=be surprising)The announcement came as a surprise to most people.get/have a surpriseWe got a surprise when we got home and found him waiting for us.give somebody a surpriseShe wanted to give him a surprise.have a surprise for somebody (=be planning to give someone a surprise)I think Jenny might have a surprise for you.spring a surprise (on somebody) (=give someone a surprise)The chairman sprang a surprise this week by announcing his intention to quit.adjectivesa big/great surpriseThe results were a big surprise.a complete/total surpriseThe news came as a complete surprise.a nice/pleasant/lovely surpriseIt’s a lovely surprise to see you.an unpleasant/nasty surpriseWe don’t want any unpleasant surprises.phrasescome as no surprise (=not be surprising)It came as no surprise when Lester got the job.be in for a surprise (=be going to have a surprise)Compare our prices. You’ll be in for a pleasant surprise.there’s a surprise in store (for somebody) (=something unexpected is going to happen)There were plenty more surprises in store for him.surprise + NOUNa surprise visitEnvironmental health inspectors made a surprise visit to the restaurant.a surprise partyHis friends had planned a surprise party for him.a surprise announcementIn a surprise announcement the company said they were withdrawing their planning application.a surprise victoryShe came to power in 1977, after a surprise victory in the general election.a surprise attackInstead they launched a successful surprise attack on the castle.a surprise move (=an unexpected action)In a surprise move, the government lifted the ban on arms exports to the country.COMMON ERRORS ► Don’t say ‘a bad surprise’. Say an unpleasant surprise or a nasty surprise.
Examples from the Corpussurprise• But in a surprise move Short and Kasparov snubbed the ruling body and rejected the offer.• Hal! What a surprise to see you here.• Police had been taken by surprise as fifteen thousand travellers converged on the area.• To everyone's complete surprise, the Labour Party lost the election.• Many readers expressed surprise at the findings, but I was not among them.• And I've always liked to be ready for surprises, especially the lethal sort.• Sam stared at his girlfriend in surprise. "What are you doing here?'' he asked.• I've got a little surprise waiting for you at home.• You can imagine my surprise when I saw my sister's photograph on a magazine cover.• To my surprise he said I might.• This came as no surprise to Dee Dee, our all-purpose advice columnist, who has long suspected the link.• He rolled back the leather covering and heard Selkirk's gasp of surprise.• Normally she was animated - laughing, frowning, grimacing, registering surprise or scepticism or compassion.• I expressed some surprise at the elaborate welcome which had been prepared for me.in/with surprise• I looked at her in surprise.• Poole stared in surprise to see Mr Hyde so early in the morning, but I did not care.• She stared from one to the other of them in surprise.• Gretchen looked up in surprise as Dale walked in.• Bella's mouth opened, but whether in surprise anger or terror, Cassie was unable to say.• The size of the camp when they came in sight of it made Rostov's eyes widen with surprise.element of surprise• There has always been an element of surprise at the discovery that Britain is not wholly urbanised.• His work is always very elegant, always beautiful, but there is an element of surprise in it too.• The next bit relies on an element of surprise for the full effect.• Or an element of surprise in an otherwise conventional room.• Your 14-21, home and road weary, occasionally defenseless Celtics have discovered some elements of surprise.• She suggests you cheat your hormones by including the element of surprise - black stockings or a weekend away, for example.• The leopard gave a snarl of fury, as it realized that it had lost the element of surprise.• What I do is count on the element of surprise.surprise!surprise!spokenSURPRISED used when you are just about to show someone something that you know will surprise them → surprisesurprisesurprise2 ●●● S3 W2 verb [transitive] 1 SURPRISEDto make someone feel surprised → shock His strange question surprised her.it surprises somebody to see/find/know etc It had surprised me to find how fussy he was about some things. I didn’t know you two knew each other. Mind you, it doesn’t surprise me. What surprised me most was that she didn’t seem to care.it surprises somebody that/how/what Looking back, does it surprise you that she left? It wouldn’t surprise me if he married Jo.2 CATCHATTACKto find, catch, or attack someone when they are not expecting it, especially when they are doing something they should not be doing A security guard surprised the burglars in the storeroom.THESAURUSsurprise to make someone feel surprised, especially because they did not expect somethingHer reaction surprised me – I didn’t realize how strongly she felt.What surprised me was how cheap everything was compared to at home.amaze to greatly surprise someone, for example because something is very good, unusual, or hard to believeHe amazed everyone with his skill.It amazes me that no one has thought of the idea before.astonish to greatly surprise someoneMyra astonished her doctors by recovering so quickly.astound to greatly surprise or shock someone. Astound sounds a little more formal and a little stronger than astonishWhat astounded him was their inefficiency.take somebody by surprise to happen at an unexpected time, so that people are surprised or unpreparedSecurity men were taken by surprise as the man ran onto the stage.His resignation took us by surprise.startle to make someone feel surprised or slightly frightened by doing something they did not expectThe wind made the door shut with a crash, which startled her.Sudden movements may startle the horse. → See Verb table
Examples from the Corpussurprise• I felt a sharp stab of disappointment and was surprised and angry at myself.• Police surprised Dyer in the parking lot of the building where he worked.• The extent of her stepmother's generosity surprised her.• Diana's reaction surprised him - he hadn't realized that she was so upset.• The urgency of desire surprised him.• The report's conclusions have surprised many analysts.• What surprised me most was how cheap everything was compared to at home.• I have to say, it surprises me that they haven't gone bankrupt before now.• It was the tone of his voice that surprised me.• The exam was actually quite easy, which surprised me.• Why don't you just have a go at skiing? You might surprise yourself.it surprises somebody that/how/what• And the police, who are true servants of justice - it surprises you?• It surprised us all that Shannon did so well.Origin surprise1 (1400-1500) Old French past participle of surprendre “to take over, surprise”, from sur- ( → SURCHARGE) + prendre “to take”