Expressions using Themes (e.g. Collocations, IELTS, Business English)

Exam Vocabulary and Synonyms for Surprise

On this page, you will find lists of words to help you expand your vocabulary related to the word ‘surprise’. There are nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs, so you will learn how to put stronger sentences together with more sophisticated language. Practicing forming sentences in this way is particularly good if you are preparing for exams, such as IELTS, TOEFL, GRE, SAT, LSAT, Civil Services, and Banking.

Example Sentence Showing Synonyms and Different Word Forms:

I was astonished (adjective) by the amount of people who turned up for the product launch. It amazed (verb) me that we had so much support. My employees were pleasantly (adverb) surprised (adjective), but I think my business partner was more bewildered (adjective) than anything else.

*Note that some words below, like surprised, can be used as both verbs and adjectives. For example:

  • I surprised him - verb - (active)

  • I was surprised by him - adjective - (passive)





In this column, you will find words that you will come across in everyday English, and which are even suitable for exams like IELTS or TOEFL.

In this column, you will find words that are likely to be asked in more Advanced Exams, such as GRE, MBA, SAT/LSAT, Civil Service, Banks, etc.

*An asterisk means that this word is less popular in everyday English than the other words in the list. These words may also be asked in some simpler exams.



Some Nouns for a Surprise

(e.g. it came as a big shock to everyone; it was a real stunner; it was an unexpected upset)



It was a terrible shock(er).

It was a terrible/unexpected upset.

The result of the game was a bit of a stunner.

I was in a state of awe when I saw her in that dress.

There was great dismay when the (terrible thing) happened.

*The news was like a jolt (to the system)


Some Adjectives to Talk About Being Surprised (or Something Being Surprising)

(e.g. I was shocked; the outcome was astounding; the results were amazing)



I was shocked (by)/It was (a) shocking (thing/event)

She was (a bit) nonplussed (by)

He was stunned (by)/It was (a) stunning (thing/event)

I was (quite) disconcerted (by)/It was (quite) disconcerting (to see/hear)

She was unsettled (by)/It was (an) unsettling (thing/event)

We were all stupefied by her reaction

We were absolutely floored by the outcome/result

I was completely perplexed/It was completely perplexing

They were awed (by what happened)

He was astounded (by)/It was (an) astounding (thing/event)

I was astonished (by)/It was (an) astonishing (thing/event)

We were amazed (by)/It was (an) amazing (thing/event)

She was startled (by)/It was (a) startling (thing/event)

He was (a bit) rattled/It was (a) rattling (thing/event)

They were (completely) overwhelmed (by)/It was (completely) overwhelming

I was dumbfounded (by)/It was dumbfounding (to see/hear)

She was (absolutely) dazzled (by)/It was (a) dazzling (thing to behold)

He was jolted into action (by)

We were completely dazed (by)

I was staggered (by)/It was (a) staggering (thing/event/outcome)

*She was counfounded (by)/It was (a) confounding (thing)

*They were (absolutely) flabbergasted (by)

*He was bewildered (by)

*We were dismayed (by/to hear)

*She was awestruck (by the beauty of it all)


Some Verbs for Being Surprised

(e.g. it unsettled me; the shock overwhelmed him; she really upset her partner)



He upset his wife when he shouted (negative)

We shocked everyone when we won (positive/negative)

She amazed them all with her wonderful voice

I unsettled my friends when I made that terrible remark (negative)

My Boss overwhelmed me with all the instructions

*The light dazzled me as I drove


Some Adverbs for Considering Something Surprising

(e.g. the well was disconcertingly deep; it was a staggeringly ridiculous statement; I think he handled the bad news amazingly well)



The water was surprisingly deep

The weather was disconcertingly bad (negative)

The painting was astoundingly beautiful

Her son was amazingly clever

She was astonishingly talented

The brothers were staggeringly strong

The landscape was breathtakingly lovely


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