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.

*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.

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.


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)



That final episode of Game of Thrones was a terrible shock(er). I didn’t expect that to happen at all!

It was an unexpected upset when the Away team won the game. We (the Home team) had really expected to win.

The result of the game was a bit of a stunner. The worst part was how much money I lost on my bet!

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

There was great dismay when the dam burst and the town was flooded. So many lives were lost.

*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 when I saw the test results.


I was shocked by the test results.


The test results were shocking.

She was quite nonplussed by what he said, but she gathered herself and eventually responded.

He was stunned when his wife left him.


He was stunned by his wife leaving him.


It was stunning when his wife left him.

I was very disconcerted by the way they shouted at me.


It was very disconcerting to hear them shout at me like that.

She was unsettled by what he said.


She was unsettled when he said it.


It was an unsettling thing to hear him say.

We were all stupefied by her reaction. It took us all by surprise.

We were absolutely floored by the outcome of the court case.

I was completely perplexed by how they took the news. I had expected a different reaction.


The way they took the news was completely perplexing

They were awed by what happened. You could tell by their expressions.

He was astounded by the poverty in the city.


It was astounding to witness the amount of poverty in the city.

I was astonished by her audacity.


Her audacity was astonishing.

We were amazed by the number of people who showed up.

The number of people who showed up was amazing.

She was startled by the birds flying out of the trees.


She found the birds flying out of the trees startling.

He was a bit rattled following the attack.


The attack was a bit rattling for him.

They were completely overwhelmed by the amount of work that needed to be done.


The amount of work that needed to be done was completely overwhelming.

I was dumbfounded by what I was seeing.


It was dumbfounding to see it.

She was dazzled by the diamonds in the ring.


The diamonds in the ring were dazzling.

He was jolted into action by these terrible events.

We were completely dazed by the attack. No one saw it coming.

I was staggered by the way they treated people.


It was staggering to see the way they treated people.

They were absolutely flabbergasted by his aggressive outburst.

She just looked bewildered when I told her what I did. She couldn’t believe it.

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

*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 at her.

*negative surprise

We shocked* everyone when we won the championship.


She amazed them all with her wonderful voice, and she was given a standing ovation.

I unsettled* my friends when I made that terrible remark.


My Boss overwhelmed me with all the instructions, and I ended up making mistakes.

The light coming through the trees dazzled me as I drove along the road.


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 in the lake.

The weather was disconcertingly* bad

*negative surprise

The painting was astoundingly beautiful. I couldn’t stop looking at it.

Her son was amazingly clever. He aced all his exams!

She was astonishingly talented, and he knew she’d win the competition.

The brothers were staggeringly strong, so it was no surprise when they lifted the car.

The landscape was breathtakingly lovely, and I felt at peace as I sat on the balcony, just taking it all in.


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