Last week a student asked me about <surprise>, “What’s the base?” and I found an interesting relative…


I know <sur-> is a prefix because I have looked it up before –


sur + round à surround

sur + render à surrender

sur + name à surname

sur + vive à survive

sur + real à surreal


MEANING of <sur-> prefix – dictionary – meaning ‘over’, ‘above’, ‘in addition’


So I wondered if the word sum for <surprise> was – sur + prise à surprise ?


I looked it up on Etymology online…

surprise (v.)                        

late 14c., from Anglo-French surprise, fem. past participle of surprendre (see surprise (n.)). Related: Surprised; surprising.

surprise (n.)

late 14c., "unexpected attack or capture," from Middle French surprise "a taking unawares," from noun use of past participle of Old French surprendre "to overtake," from sur- "over" (see sur-) + prendre "to take," from Latin prendere, contracted from prehendere "to grasp, seize" (see prehensile). Meaning "something unexpected" first recorded 1590s, that of "feeling caused by something unexpected" is c.1600. Meaning "fancy dish" is attested from 1708.

A Surprize is ... a dish ... which promising little from its first appearance, when open abounds with all sorts of variety. [W. King, "Cookery," 1708]

Surprise party originally was a military detachment (1841); festive sense is attested from 1858.

STRUCTURE - Yes, <sur-> is the prefix and <prise> is the base, Latin root prendere, meaning “to take, grasp, seize”.


Word Matrix enter-

Base: <prise>

Denotation: L. prendere, “to take, grasp, seize”

Word Sums:

sur + prise + es à surprises

sur +prise + ing à surprising

And many more


(Single, silent <e> convention)


RELATIVES - WORD SEARCHER I typed <pris> 45 words came up BUT I don’t know if they are all connected in meaning yet.


Interesting relative…  I typed <prendere> (Latin root) on Etymology online and found out that <prison> is related in meaning and structure to <surprise> – it passes the meaning and structure test and therefore it is a relative.  Both have the same Latin root <prendere> and meaning “to take”.  I was surprised!


prise + on à prison

im + prise + on + ed à imprisoned



PRONUNCIATION - <s> makes the /z/ sound in <prison>.  <s> makes the /s/ sound in <surprise>.


I want to look up the meaning of <detention> now.  I wonder how it differs in meaning?