- surd (adj.)
- 1550s, "irrational" (of numbers), from Latin surdus "deaf, unheard, silent, dull; willfully deaf, inattentive," possibly related to susurrus "a muttering, whispering" (see susurration). The mathematical sense is from the use of Latin surdus to translate Arabic (jadhr) asamm "deaf (root)," itself apparently a loan-translation of Greek alogos, literally "speechless, without reason" (Euclid book x, Def.). In French, sourd remains the principal word for "deaf." As a noun from 1540s. Related: Surdity.
- sure (adj.)
- early 13c., "safe against attack, secure," later "firm, reliable" (c.1300); "mentally certain, confident" (mid-14c.); "firm, strong, resolute" (c.1400), from Old French seur, sur "safe, secure; undoubted, dependable, trustworthy" (12c.), from Latin securus "free from care, untroubled, heedless, safe" (see secure (adj.)). Pronunciation development is that of sugar (n.).
As an affirmative meaning "yes, certainly" it dates from 1803, from Middle English meanings "firmly established; having no doubt," and phrases like to be sure (1650s), sure enough (1540s), and for sure (1580s). The use as an adverb meaning "assuredly" goes back to early 14c. Sure-footed is from 1630s, literal and figurative; sure thing dates from 1836. In 16c.-17c., Suresby was an appellation for a person to be depended upon.
- surefire (adj.)
- also sure-fire, by 1864, American English, from sure + fire (v.). Originally of rifles.
- surely (adv.)
- 14c., from sure (adj.) + -ly (2).
- surety (n.)
- c.1300, "a guarantee, promise, pledge, an assurance," from Old French seurté "a promise, pledge, guarantee; assurance, confidence" (12c., Modern French sûreté), from Latin securitatem (nominative securitas) "freedom from care or danger, safety, security," from securus (see secure (adj.)). From late 14c. as "security, safety, stability; state of peace," also "certainty, certitude; confidence." Meaning "one who makes himself responsible for another" is from early 15c. Until 1966, the French national criminal police department was the Sûreté nationale.
- surf (n.)
- 1680s, probably from earlier suffe (1590s), of uncertain origin. Originally used in reference to the coast of India, hence perhaps of Indic origin. Or perhaps a phonetic respelling of sough, which meant "a rushing sound."
- surf (v.)
- "ride the crest of a wave," 1917, from surf (n.). Related: Surfed; surfing. In the Internet sense, first recorded 1993.
- surface (v.)
- "come to the surface," 1898, from surface (n.). Earlier it meant "bring to the surface" (1885), and "to give something a (polished) surface" (1778). Related: Surfaced; surfacing.
- surface (n.)
- 1610s, from French surface "an outermost boundary, outside part" (16c.), from Old French sur- "above" (see sur-) + face (see face (n.)). Patterned on Latin superficies "surface, upper side, top" (see superficial). As an adjective from 1660s.
- surfeit (v.)
- late 14c., intransitive, "indulge or feed to excess," from surfeit (n.). Related: Surfeited; surfeiting. Transitive sense from 1590s.
- surfeit (n.)
- early 14c., "excess quantity;" late 14c., "overindulgence," from Old French sorfet "excess; arrogance" (Modern French surfait), noun use of past participle of surfaire "overdo," from sur- "over" (see sur- (1)) + faire "do," from Latin facere "to make" (see factitious).
- surfer (n.)
- 1955, agent noun from surf (v.).
- surfing (n.)
- 1955, verbal noun from surf (v.). The surfing craze went nationwide in U.S. from California in 1963. Surf-board is from 1826, originally in a Hawaiian and Polynesian context. Surf music attested from 1963.
It is highly amusing to a stranger to go out into the south part of this town, some day when the sea is rolling in heavily over the reef, and to observe there the evolutions and rapid career of a company of surf-players. The sport is so attractive and full of wild excitement to Hawaiians, and withal so healthful, that I cannot but hope it will be many years before civilization shall look it out of countenance, or make it disreputable to indulge in this manly, though it be dangerous, exercise. [the Rev. Henry T. Cheever, "Life in the Sandwich Islands," New York, 1851]
"The basis of surfing music is a rock and roll bass beat figuration, coupled with a raunch-type weird-sounding lead guitar plus wailing saxes. Surfing music has to sound untrained with a certain rough flavor to appeal to the teenagers." [music publisher Murray Wilson, quoted in "Billboard," June 29, 1963]
- surge (n.)
- late 15c., "fountain, stream," of uncertain origin, probably from Middle French sourge-, stem of sourdre "to rise, swell," from Latin surgere "to rise, arise, get up, mount up, ascend; attack," contraction of surrigere, from assimilated form of sub "up from below" (see sub-) + regere "to keep straight, guide" (see regal). Meaning "high, rolling swell of water" is from 1520s; figurative sense of "excited rising up" (as of feelings) is from 1510s.
- surge (v.)
- 1510s, "to rise and fall," from surge (n.), or from Middle French surgir "rise, ride (as a ship does a wave), spring up, arrive." Meaning "rise high and roll forcefully" is from 1560s. Related: Surged; surging.
- surgent (adj.)
- "rising in waves," 1590s, from Latin surgentem (nominative surgens) "rising," present participle of surgere "to rise" (see surge (n.)). In psychology from 1933.
- surgeon (n.)
- c.1300, sorgien, cirurgian "person who heals by manual operation on the patient," from Anglo-French surgien (13c.), from Old French surgien, cirurgien (13c.), from cirurgie "surgery," from Latin chirurgia "surgery," from Greek kheirourgia, from kheirourgos "working or done by hand," from kheir "hand" (see chiro-) + ergon "work" (see organ).
- surgery (n.)
- c.1300, sirgirie, "medical treatment of an operative nature, such as cutting-operations, setting of fractures, etc.," from Old French surgerie, surgeure, contraction of serurgerie, from Late Latin chirurgia (see surgeon).
- surgical (adj.)
- 1770, earlier chirurgical (early 15c.), from surgery + -ical. Related: Surgically.
surgical strike: There is no such thing. Don't use unless in a quote, then question what that means. [Isaac Cubillos, "Military Reporters Stylebook and Reference Guide," 2010]
- surly (adj.)
- 1570s, "haughty, imperious," alteration of Middle English sirly "lordly, imperious" (14c.), literally "like a sir," from sir + -ly (1). The meaning "rude, gruff" is first attested 1660s. For sense development, compare lordly, and German herrisch "domineering, imperious," from Herr "master, lord." Related: Surliness.
- surmise (v.)
- c.1400, in law, "to charge, allege," from Old French surmis, past participle of surmettre "to accuse," from sur- "upon" (see sur- (1)) + mettre "put," from Latin mittere "to send" (see mission). Meaning "to infer conjecturally" is recorded from 1700, from the noun. Related: Surmised; surmising.
- surmise (n.)
- early 15c., legal, "a charge, a formal accusation," from Old French surmise "accusation," noun use of past participle of surmettre (see surmise (v.)). Meaning "inference, guess" is first found in English 1580s.
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific—and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
- surmount (v.)
- early 14c., "to rise above, go beyond," from Old French surmonter "rise above," from sur- "beyond" (see sur- (1)) + monter "to go up" (see mount (v.)). Meaning "to prevail over, overcome" is recorded from late 14c. Related: Surmounted; surmounting.
- surmountable (adj.)
- late 15c., from Anglo-French sormuntable; see surmount + -able.
- surname (n.)
- c.1300, "name, title, or epithet added to a person's name," from sur "above" (from Latin super-; see sur- (1)) + name (n.); modeled on Anglo-French surnoun "surname" (early 14c.), variant of Old French sornom, from sur "over" + nom "name." As "family name" from late 14c.
An Old English word for this was freonama, literally "free name." Meaning "family name" is first found late 14c. Hereditary surnames existed among Norman nobility in England in early 12c., among the common people they began to be used 13c., increasingly frequent until near universal by end of 14c. The process was later in the north of England than the south. The verb is attested from 1510s. Related: Surnamed.
- surpass (v.)
- 1550s, from Middle French surpasser "go beyond, exceed, excel" (16c.), from sur- "beyond" (see sur- (1)) + passer "to go by" (see pass (v.)). Related: Surpassed; surpassing.
- surplice (n.)
- "loose white robe," c.1200, from Old French surpeliz (12c.), from Medieval Latin superpellicium (vestmentum) "a surplice," literally "an over fur (garment)," from Latin super "over" (see super-) + Medieval Latin pellicium "fur garment, tunic of skins," from Latin pellis "skin" (see film (n.)). So called because it was donned over fur garments worn by clergymen for warmth in unheated medieval churches.
- surplus (n.)
- late 14c., from Old French sorplus "remainder, extra" (12c., Modern French surplus), from Medieval Latin superplus "excess, surplus," from Latin super "over" (see super-) + plus "more" (see plus). As an adjective from late 14c.
- surplusage (n.)
- c.1400, from Medieval Latin surplusagium, from surplus (see surplus).
- surprise (n.)
- also formerly surprize, late 14c., "unexpected attack or capture," from Old French surprise "a taking unawares" (13c.), from noun use of past participle of Old French sorprendre "to overtake, seize, invade" (12c.), from sur- "over" (see sur- (1)) + prendre "to take," from Latin prendere, contracted from prehendere "to grasp, seize" (see prehensile). Meaning "something unexpected" first recorded 1590s, that of "feeling of astonishment 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 stealth military detachment (1826); festive sense is attested by 1857; according to Thornton's "American Glossary," originally a gathering of members of a congregation at the house of their preacher "with the ostensible purpose of contributing provisions, &c., for his support," and sometimes called a donation party. Phrase taken by surprise is attested from 1690s.
- surprise (v.)
- also formerly surprize, late 14c., "overcome, overpower" (of emotions), from the noun or from Anglo-French surprise, fem. past participle of Old French surprendre (see surprise (n.)). Meaning "come upon unexpectedly" is from 1590s; that of "strike with astonishment" is 1650s.
- surprised (adj.)
- 1610s, "attacked unexpectedly," past participle adjective from surprise (v.). Meaning "excited by something unexpected" is from 1882.
- surprising (adv.)
- 1660s, present participle adjective from surprise (v.). Related: Surprisingly.
- surreal (adj.)
- 1936, back-formation from surrealism or surrealist. Related: Surreally.
- surrealism (n.)
- 1927, from French surréalisme (from sur- "beyond" + réalisme "realism"), according to OED coined c.1917 by Guillaume Apollinaire, taken over by Andre Breton as the name of the movement he launched in 1924 with "Manifeste de Surréalisme." Taken up in English at first in the French form; the anglicized version is from 1931.
De cette alliance nouvelle, car jusqu'ici les décors et les costumes d'une part, la chorégraphie d'autre part, n'avaient entre eux qu'un lien factice, il este résulté, dans 'Parade,' une sorte de surréalisme. [Apollinaire, "Notes to 'Parade' "]
See sur- (1) + realism.
- surrealist (adj.)
- 1917, from French surréaliste (see surrealism). From 1925 as a noun.
- surrealistic (adj.)
- 1930, from surrealist (see surrealism) + -ic.
- surreality (n.)
- 1936, from surreal + -ity.
- surrender (v.)
- mid-15c., "to give (something) up," from Old French surrendre "give up, deliver over" (13c.), from sur- "over" (see sur- (1)) + rendre "give back" (see render (v.)). Reflexive sense of "to give oneself up" (especially as a prisoner) is from 1580s. Related: Surrendered; surrendering.
- surrender (n.)
- early 15c., in law, "a giving up" (of an estate, land grant, interest in property, etc.), from Anglo-French surrendre, Old French surrendre noun use of infinitive, "give up, deliver over" (see surrender (v.)).
- surreptitious (adj.)
- mid-15c., from Latin surrepticius "stolen, furtive, clandestine," from surreptus, past participle of surripere "seize secretly, take away, steal, plagiarize," from assimilated form of sub "from under" (hence, "secretly;" see sub-) + rapere "to snatch" (see rapid). Related: Surreptitiously.
- Old English suþrige (722), literally "Southerly District" (relative to Middlesex), from suðer, from suð (see south) + -ge "district" (see yeoman). Bede and others use it as a folk-name, as if "People from Surrey." Meaning "two-seated, four-wheeled pleasure carriage" is from 1895, short for Surrey cart, an English pleasure cart (introduced in U.S. 1872), named for Surrey, England, where it first was made.
- surrogacy (n.)
- 1811; see surrogate + -cy.
- surrogate (n.)
- early 15c., from Latin surrogatus, past participle of surrogare/subrogare "put in another's place, substitute," from assimilated form of sub "in the place of, under" (see sub-) + rogare "to ask, propose" (see rogation). Meaning "woman pregnant with the fertilized egg of another woman" is attested from 1978 (from 1972 of animals; surrogate mother in a psychological sense is from 1971). As an adjective from 1630s.
- surrogation (n.)
- 1530s, from Medieval Latin surrigationem (nominative surrogatio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin surrogare (see subrogate).
- surround (v.)
- early 15c., "to flood, overflow," from Anglo-French surounder, Middle French soronder "to overflow, abound; surpass, dominate," from Late Latin superundare "overflow," from Latin super "over" (see super-) + undare "to flow in waves," from unda "wave" (see water (n.1); and compare abound). Sense of "to shut in on all sides" first recorded 1610s, influenced by figurative meaning in French of "dominate," and by sound association with round, which also influenced the spelling of the English word from 17c. Related: Surrounded; surrounding.
- surroundings (n.)
- "environment," 1857, plural verbal noun from surround (v.).
- surtax (n.)
- "extra tax," 1834, from French surtaxe, from Old French sur- "over" (see sur- (1)) + taxe "tax" (see tax (n.)).
- surveil (v.)
- 1904, back-formation from surveillance. Sometimes also surveille. Related: Surveilled; surveilling.
- surveillance (n.)
- 1802, from French surveillance "oversight, supervision, a watch," noun of action from surveiller "oversee, watch" (17c.), from sur- "over" (see sur- (1)) + veiller "to watch," from Latin vigilare, from vigil "watchful" (see vigil). Seemingly a word that came to English from the Terror in France ("surveillance committees" were formed in every French municipality in March 1793 by order of the Convention to monitor the actions and movements of suspect persons, outsiders, and dissidents).