Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

surprise - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

noun     surprise pronunciation in British English
Word Forms
  1. 1
    [countable] an unusual or unexpected event

    There were few surprises at Wimbledon this year.

    come as a surprise:

    Holman’s arrest came as a surprise to the entire community.

    come as no surprise:

    Given the dismal sales performance, the change of management came as no surprise.

    surprises in store (=unexpected things that will happen in the future):

    Let’s hope there are no more unpleasant surprises in store for us.

    be in for a surprise:

    The players could be in for a surprise if they expect an easy victory.

    1. a.
      news or information that seems unusual or unexpected

      I never knew Sheila had been married – that was a real surprise.

    2. b.
      [only before noun] happening unexpectedly

      Henderson led the team to a surprise win in the final.

      They keep the room ready for surprise visitors.

  2. 2
    [uncountable] the feeling you have when something unusual or unexpected happens

    Many students expressed surprise at the news.

    (much) to someone’s surprise:

    Much to my surprise, the restaurant was actually very nice.

  3. 3
    [countable] a present that you are not expecting to receive

    I got you a little surprise for your birthday.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

deep learning

a form of machine learning which incorporates the use of neural networks

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

snap election

a general election … that is called earlier than expected

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play