sur·prise / sə(r)ˈprīz/ • n. 1. an unexpected or astonishing event, fact, or thing: the announcement was a complete surprise. ∎ a feeling of mild astonishment or shock caused by something unexpected: much to her surprise, she'd missed him. ∎ [as adj.] denoting something made, done, or happening unexpectedly: a surprise attack. 2. [as adj.] Bell-ringing denoting a class of complex methods of change-ringing: surprise major. • v. [tr.] (often be surprised) (of something unexpected) cause (someone) to feel mild astonishment or shock: I was surprised at his statement | [tr.] Joe was surprised that he enjoyed the journey | she was surprised to learn that he was forty | [as adj.] (surprising) a surprising sequence of events. ∎ capture, attack, or discover suddenly and unexpectedly; catch unawares: he surprised a gang stealing scrap metal. PHRASES: surprise, surprise inf. said when giving someone a surprise. ∎ said ironically when one believes that something was entirely predictable: we entrust you with Jason's care and, surprise surprise, you make a mess of it. take someone/something by surprise attack or capture someone or something unexpectedly. ∎ (take someone by surprise) happen when someone is not prepared or is expecting something different: the question took David by surprise. DERIVATIVES: sur·pris·ed·ly / -z(i)dlē/ adv. sur·pris·ing·ly adv. the profit margin in advertising is surprisingly low | not surprisingly, his enthusiasm knew no bounds. sur·pris·ing·ness n. ORIGIN: late Middle English (in the sense ‘unexpected seizure of a place, or attack on troops’): from Old French, feminine past participle of surprendre, from medieval Latin superprehendere ‘seize.’
- Henry, O . his plots characterized by unexpected dénouements. [Am. Lit.: Benét, 457]
- Operation Z Japanese plan for Pearl Harbor attack. [Jap. Hist.: Toland, 177–178, 183–187]
- Pearl Harbor site of surprise attack on American fleet by the Japanese (December 7, 1941). [Am. Hist.: Fuller, III, 455–456]
- thief in the night analogy to the Lord’s unexpected coming. [N.T.: I Thessalonians 5:2]
- truffle indicates the unexpected. [Flower Symbolism: Flora Symbolica, 178]
So surprise vb. †overcome with desire, etc. XV; assail suddenly, take unawares XVI; affect with surprise XVII. prob. first in pp. f. (O)F. surpris(e), pp. of surprendre :- medL. superprehendere, f. L. SUPER- + præhendere seize.
An unexpected action, sudden confusion, or an unanticipated event.
As a ground for a new trial, surprise means the condition in which a party to a lawsuit is unexpectedly placed and that is detrimental to that party's case. The situation must be one that the party could not reasonably have anticipated and that could not be guarded against or prevented.
When a party is taken by surprise by the testimony of his or her own witness, the party may be permitted to discredit the witness by showing that the witness made prior contradictory or inconsistent statements.